“Now what can the old fox mean by that?” Klemens von Metternich is supposed to have said when the great French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord died in 1838. Like Talleyrand, my friend and teacher Henry Kissinger spent half a century in the world of high politics, survived the political eclipse of his original employer, grew rich over the course of a controversial career, and demonstrated intellectual and political agility that led some to hail him as a genius and others to curse him as a monster.
Nothing about the public reaction to Kissinger’s death would have surprised him. He had been the object of intense adulation and passionate loathing for more than 50 years. Although he enjoyed the admiration much more than the hate, he was used to both. More than that, he appreciated both sentiments at something like their real worth.