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Oprah: Wasn't it former president Carter's reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that led you to switch parties?

Condoleezza: When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and we decided to boycott the Olympics, President Carter said, "Today, I've learned more about the Soviet Union than at any other time." I remember thinking, "What did you think you were dealing with? This is a horrible government—of course they invaded some foreign country!" I thought it was time to have a tougher policy toward this repressive regime that fortunately no longer exists. And without changes in U.S. policy, it might have limped along longer.

Oprah: What did you feel after the fall of the Soviet Union?

Condoleezza: I felt joy for the Russian people, though I knew life would be tough for them. I also felt amazement at how it happened. Everything I'd been taught as a political scientist had said the state will try to survive. And this was a state with 5 million men under arms and 30,000 nuclear weapons. But on December 25, 1991, Gorbachev sat on television and simply said never mind, after 75 years of communism. They brought down the hammer and sickle and put up the Russian tricolor, and it was over. We should be grateful to Gorbachev for the graceful exit of the Soviet Union, because I'm not sure that every leader would have made that choice. They did have ways to fight back that might have brought us all down.

Oprah: Tell me about your relationship with George W. Bush.

Condoleezza: I'm very comfortable with him, and I think he's comfortable with me. I feel I can tell him anything.

Oprah: Anything?

Condoleezza: Well, anything in the policy realm—there are certainly other things he doesn't need to know! He's a supportive boss.

Oprah: Is he smart?

Condoleezza: He's really smart—and he's also disciplined, which I admire. He's tough, calm, and even-keeled. Any campaign has its ups and downs, and if you follow the perturbation, you'll drive yourself crazy—but he never does. He says, "We've got a good strategy, we're staying on course." He also has a great sense of humor.

Oprah: I've heard you and he have a similar sense of humor.

Condoleezza: We do. We find the same things absurd. And we both love sports and family. I tremendously admire his relationship with Laura. It's beautiful.

Oprah: It's what it appears to be?

Condoleezza: It's tender and supportive. And I love his relationship with his daughters, because I had a great relationship with my father and there's nothing like that. I also admire his relationship with his parents. I love the fact that family and God mean so much to him.

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