Until Republican attacks on the loyalty of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, it was possible to make a cogent argument: President Trump may not personify one's idea of what a president of the United States should be, but he is trying to move American policy from "A" to "B"; and there has been too much focus on the pains of "A" rather than the goals of "B." It is an argument often made by Mr. Trump’s own supporters.
No longer. Forty years ago, when he was 3, Col. Vindman and his family were part of the great Soviet Jewish emigration. In their case it was from greater Odessa in southern Ukraine. His service to his adopted country, the United States, has been heroic; no other word will do to describe it. To falsely accuse him of divided loyalty only means that for Mr. Trump and his flacks no lie is too low.
Colonel Vindman's honor in Ukraine will be enhanced. But Americans’ understanding of what is going on has been further muddied. Loose talk by President Trump about “corruption” in Ukraine only misinforms the uninformed. Whereas in Russia, enrichment of the corrupt has become a fine art, Ukrainians have had enough. They look to the Czech Republic, Poland, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. These countries are the “B” they want to get to, and they are fully aware of the pain to come in getting there.
Before Volodymyr Zelensky, independent Ukraine had five presidents. Messrs. Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, Viktor Yushchenko and Petro Poroshenko may have believed they had no choice but to deal with oligarchs if they wanted to get anything done. But each defended Ukrainian interests as best he could. Only one — Viktor Yanukovych, along with his hireling, Paul Manafort — was the bought tool of the Russian government. That distinction is still lost on many Americans.
One notes that as in no other country, late-night American television entertainers such as Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel ridicule President Trump unrelentingly. This is probably due to marketing – the networks figure it is what 20-somethings want. Hence the “news.” One understands (at least I do) why Mr. Trump does not think he is being treated fairly
Until the lies about Colonel Lindeman and others (Ambassador William Taylor, former negotiator Kurt Volker, etc.), the fair-minded could agree with Senator Angus King of Maine. King, a political and personal moderate, has argued that the 2020 election, not impeachment, is where Mr. Trump's stewardship should be judged.
By that thinking, it is better to censure President Trump if that's what the evidence leads to. This would put Mr Trump's supporters in a bind and would obviate the contention that Democrats only want to overturn the 2016 election because they know they can't win in 2020.
In Ukraine, President Zelensky’s popularity is down slightly, but as president, he is demonstrating some of the skills that got him elected. He has the support of new, young members of the Rada (parliament) elected on July 21. It is in the United States that we have the difficult choice of how to deal with a president for whom no lie is too low.
David A. Mittell Jr. is a Boston-based political columnist. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.