I was an Alexander Vindman fan boy during his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. He’s the poster for bad shit happening to good people in the Trump era. Telling the truth cost him his military career, but not his integrity. That’s something the Trumpers will never understand because they haven’t got any.
It’s been a big year thus far for Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg. First, the “losers and suckers” story. On Monday, he published the first post retirement interview with Lt. Colonel Vindman. Vindman let it rip calling the Impeached Insult Comedian, “Putin’s useful idiot” among other things.
One reason I liked Vindman as a witness so much was his utter lack of guile and cynicism. That made smears against him ineffective except among the Trump cult. Fellow witness Fiona Hill summed it up brilliantly to Goldberg:
It is noteworthy that two other key witnesses in the impeachment—Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, and Fiona Hill, formerly the senior director for European and Russian affairs at the NSC (and Vindman’s boss)—were immigrants. Yovanovitch was born in Canada and grew up speaking Russian at home; Hill came from England. “The truth is that Masha and Alex were very good in their roles, but they were in shock much of the time as this all unfolded,” Hill told me. “Mugged right outside your own door. You can’t quite believe it, because this is not the America that they idealized. I idealized it too, when I got here. There’s no Rudy Giuliani playing this kind of role in your American dream.” William Taylor, who served as acting ambassador to Ukraine after the Trump administration removed Yovanovitch, said of Vindman, “One thing Alex Vindman is not is cynical. I’m absolutely convinced he’s a patriot, to the point where he’s a bit Boy Scoutish.”
Vindman is an intellectual and a straight arrow. That’s why he was such a breath of fresh air even for a hardened skeptic like me. Trump and his minions are incapable of understanding the Alex Vindmans of the world. They cannot be bought, which is a rarity in Trump’s Washington.
My favorite Vindman quote from the Goldberg article is in the second paragraph below:
But do you think Russia is blackmailing Trump? “They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he says. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”
Vindman continues, “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for—it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.”
I wonder what kind of chicken: Kiev? Pot pie? Tandoori? Kung Pao? Popeye’s? KFC? Super Chicken? Foghorn Leghorn?
Or is there a musical component? There’s always a musical component with me. That’s why the last word goes to Little Feat: