The Washington Post

Richard Lugar, the gloved one of Ukraine

Sen. Richard Lugar: huge in Ukraine. (Susan Walsh/AP)

But the Indiana Republican apparently enjoys a stature normally reserved for chart-toppers in Ukraine, where he is, as they say, huge.

Journalist John Shaw, who wrote the recent book “Richard G. Lugar: Statesman of the Senate,” says that while travelling with Lugar and former senator Sam Nunn in Eastern Europe, a young Ukranian arms-control specialist told him that Lugar was a “total rock star” in her country because of his work on non-proliferation. Shaw then introduced the Lugar fan to the senator and the two chatted extensively about Ukrainian politics and diplomacy.

The woman later thanked Shaw, and — mixing musical metaphors — gushed that it was like meeting Michael Jackson.

The book also delves deeply into Lugar’s foreign policy work, and Shaw finds some criticism of the otherwise well-regarded senator — particularly on the Iraq war, which Lugar questioned, but didn’t cross his party on. Lugar’s former colleague Chuck Hagel said he pleaded with Lugar to try to exert some influence with President George W. Bush, Shaw reports. And Vice President Joe Biden, who served in the Senate for years with Lugar, too, laments that he wasn’t more forceful. “I wish Dick would have punched back when he knew his team was wrong,” Biden says.

Substance aside, we still can’t get the image of Lugar moonwalking through Odessa out of our heads.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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