Sunday, January 28, 2007

John O'Sullivan - The President, the Pope and the Prime Minister - Yuri Andropov's funeral

I haven't read "The President, The Pope and The Prime Minister" yet, so I cannot endorse it, but Mark Steyn's column today includes an anecdote from the funeral of Yuri Andropov.
John O'Sullivan's new book The President, The Pope And The Prime Minister has a marvelous account of the funeral of Yuri Andropov. In case you've forgotten, he was one of those late-period Soviet leaders who looked like he'd been plucked in haste from the local embalmer's and propped up against the balcony for the May Day parade. When he was eventually pronounced (officially) dead in 1984, Margaret Thatcher was prevailed upon by an aide to stop at a shoe store en route to the airport and get some fleece-lined boots for the chilly February burial. She grumbled about the cost all the way to Moscow. There she met Andropov's successor, Konstantin Chernenko, whom the Politburo had anointed as the next cadaver-in-chief. And, after shaking hands with him, she stopped complaining about the cost of her Kremlin boots. "They were a prudent long-term investment," she told her aide.

I remember the news coverage from late 1982, when Andropov took power. The MSM/DNC used the power transition as an excuse to advocate "peace" overtures and to undermine Reagan's foreign policy. The American public was treated to hints that the new "leader" might be a closet reformer, even though he was strong and firmly in control. The MSM/DNC's advocacy of capitulation to a moribund Soviet dictator seem silly in light of subsequent events. But those efforts were no more silly than the MSM/DNC's current attempt to force the Americans to retreat from Al Qaeda in Iraq.

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