A late great pretender: How a Russian spy became America’s greatest political writer

This guest post originally appeared at Mark Leibovich’s “This Town” blog I’ve just had a day to appreciate what Edward Rogers was, before we all knew about him. Edward Rogers was the guy who…

A late great pretender: How a Russian spy became America's greatest political writer

This guest post originally appeared at Mark Leibovich’s “This Town” blog

I’ve just had a day to appreciate what Edward Rogers was, before we all knew about him.

Edward Rogers was the guy who once steered a Fiat 500 out of a canal in St. Petersburg. His idea was to provide you a comfortable ride, without the clutter. (It actually worked pretty well; he kept the mileage relatively under 30 miles per gallon.)

Edward Rogers is also a guy who threw a pole into a river to create a fort — then cajoled a couple, including those around-the-clock cigarettes, to join him — and moved through the riverbank for two months, clearing the woods and strangling the animal animals. He talked about his friends making him sad because of their fatalities and sadness, and said he was having trouble going fishing because all the river was clear. He wore the same striped shirt for years.

Edward Rogers is a guy who signed a lease on a seminary in Utah as a place for his mentally challenged son to go to school. (All in the name of Russian Orthodox faith.)

Edward Rogers is the ultimate “communist” — hmm, maybe I should have sent one of the Kremlin correspondents over there to scoop them? — who went to a police academy to take it more seriously. Now he’s the kind of guy who did more than do — said “more than say” the words he wants, which might be a reference to Big Brother, when he told Reuters that he’d only put the Russian phone number into the phonebook because he wanted his wife to know she could call if she wanted to learn anything more about American politics.

Edward Rogers’s birth was always the biggest question mark about who his father was, in my eyes. It wasn’t always clear. Mark Leibovich gets that, in his book “This Town.”

And it was not clear. He first revealed his presence in American culture as, The Washington Post reports, a guest at a presidential inauguration — as a spy.

Then, he left Russia for the United States. (After all the likes of Henry Kissinger, Max Frankel, and future Bill Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin all had ties to the “Spring Palace” in the city of Duluth.)

Yet, there’s never been really any indication as to what he really was about. He had a fling with Lady Brett Ashley the young lady in the movie Memento, based on the books by Peter Straub. Edward was a “flirtatious figure,” with an “impish sense of humor,” someone who followed the American political landscape “with fascination.” Yet there were people who didn’t know him at all.

Just before he died, Edward’s son said the following about him: “Dad didn’t fit into the prevailing landscape of history. His theory was that history can’t be dictated from the bottom up, and that the powers that be had lost their souls in a tumultuous course toward totalitarianism. I felt it was his righteousness and his fun that makes him so beloved, not the part of him that would’ve played into the average jaded American’s experience.”

Edward Rogers is this city’s late great pretender. Having a neighbor who could speak Russian and know three people working in television were more of a thought than most of the great city’s residents really knew, at one point.

Edward Rogers talks a lot about politics, he tells people, at home and in restaurants, “not liking the two parties.” That’s not the business of anyone in Seattle.

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