URBANE LEGENDS: Terence P. Jeffrey cautions in The Washington Times, to be wary of whoever the press dubs with the “U” word:
The Sunday London Times cast into question not only the quality of Scotch Mr. Aziz drank, but also his urbanity itself. The “seemingly urbane deputy prime minister,” sniffed the Times, “was exposed as a lover of Glasgow’s Grand Old Parr blend.”
Yet, whichever label he drinks, Mr. Aziz is only the latest in a long line of dictators’ front men who have impressed the press with their urbanity.
A 1999 report in the Ottawa Citizen recalled that Joachim von Ribbentrop, a onetime resident of that Canadian city who later became Adolf Hitler’s foreign minister, was “urbane, polished” and “always superbly tailored.”
A 1984 profile in The Washington Post said Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, an acolyte of Josef Stalin, was “invariably urbane and sophisticated.”
The New York Times ran this subhead on a 1986 obituary for Maoist Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai: “Urbane, infinitely patient.”
Even Yasser Arafat had a mannerly lieutenant. A 1983 piece in The Washington Post referenced “Arafat’s normally cool and urbane deputy Rahman.”
Cuba’s dictator, the most famous cigar lover on Earth, needed no whiskey swigging substitute when, in 1979, he wanted to deliver his message to the world. He became his own courteous spokesman. “It was a far more polished and urbane Fidel Castro who addressed the U.N. General Assembly,” noted U.S.News & World Report.
Jeffrey ends his article with a perfect example of someone who the vast majority of the press would never be caught dead using the “U” word to describe.
Naturally, it’s the one former world leader who might actually deserve the word.