Havel consistently put himself on the line, writing absurdist (and funny!) allegorical plays that kept him in constant hot water with the Soviet puppet regime. As a peaceful protester, he found himself repeatedly in prison, but was never broken. Seemingly bemused at becoming president, he eschewed jingoism and platitudes, showing compassion for enemies, and orchestrating a velvet divorce between the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
All the while never losing his avant garde sensibilities. This is a guy who hired Frank Zappa to be his consultant on culture and trade.
(You know, it wouldn’t kill our politicians to look at Havel as a role-model, rather than one-upping each other over who’s more Reaganesque or Kennedyesque or whatever).
I saw Havel once in a small restaurant in the ‘burbs of Prague about 10 years ago, quietly dining with a friend. He was short, stocky and mustachioed (coinkidentally, not unlike his working class Polish counterpart, Lech Walesa), with no security detail in tow. A giant, nonetheless.