Now here’s a little tale of patriotism to hide from the youth of America: You come to this country with your father, grandmother and brother, Jewish refugees from Ukraine arriving with nothing but $750 and a couple of suitcases.
You show your love of country by signing up for military service and reach the rank of lieutenant colonel. You serve multiple overseas tours and get hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq and collect a Purple Heart. You serve the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and you serve on the White House National Security Council.
All of these, gestures of selfless service and love of country.
And what do you get in return?
If your name is Alexander Vindman, you have your patriotism questioned by the toadies surrounding Donald Trump, each of them too frightened to challenge this president no matter his latest outrage.
You have the lapdog Laura Ingraham on Fox News, using her show to connect Vindman with the word “espionage,” and the legal loon Rudy Giuliani claiming Vindman has “been advising two gov’s,” and other Trump sycophants wondering aloud if Vindman is secretly loyal to the country he fled – when he was three years old.
You have right-wing Internet voices such as Jack Posobiec tweeting the lie that Vindman has advised the Ukrainian government on how to combat Trump’s foreign policy goals. Where does Posobiec get his information? From The New York Times, he claims. And what does The Times say about that? They’ve “reported no such thing,” says The Times.
And this president of ours, who has never served a day of public service without attempting to profit off of it financially, suggests Vindman might be a “double agent.”
All because he dared to tell the U.S. Congress what he heard on the telephone, firsthand, about President Trump attempting to swap $391 million in military aid to Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden, his potential opponent in the 2020 presidential election.
And Vindman’s not the only victim of slander.
There’s Ambassador William B. Taylor, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who became charge d’ affaire for Ukraine. A West Point graduate, he served 18 months with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, where he won the Bronze Star and the Air Medal with a V for Valor for heroism.
He’s another one who spilled the truth to Congress about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump’s response? He called Taylor a “Never Trumper.” Remember that phrase? Trump calls such people “human scum.”
When he learned of Trump’s Ukraine conversation, Taylor called it “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Not only “crazy” but wrong politically and constitutionally and, in case you didn’t notice, morally wrong.
We’ve gotten so caught up in the politics of Trump’s attempted deal with Ukraine that we’ve forgotten what it means: the ongoing endangerment of untold numbers of human lives. The Russian military intervention in Ukraine, ongoing now for nearly six years, has reportedly taken more than 10,000 lives.
Ukraine asked for that $391 million in U.S. aid to help hold off the Russian military. Donald Trump, utterly oblivious to all those vulnerable lives, wanted to swap them for political dirt on a political opponent.
But failing that, he’s always willing to throw dirt at anybody who gets in his way.
A former Baltimore Sun columnist and WJZ-TV commentator, Michael Olesker is the author of six books, most recently “Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age” (Johns Hopkins University Press).