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The Patriot versus the President

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman should be a Republican poster boy, given the party’s routine invocation of love of country and encomiums to military valor. But to the GOP and its supporters, Vindman's recent testimony in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump automatically makes him an enemy of the people.

NEW YORK – It was an extraordinary spectacle: Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a US military officer in full dress uniform decorated with a Purple Heart, testifying in the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment hearings on November 19. Knowing that his testimony might well wreck his military career, Vindman believed it was his duty to express his concerns about President Donald Trump’s alleged attempt to undermine US national interests for his own political gain.

All the major US media have exhaustively described – albeit often in partisan fashion – the details of Trump’s months-long effort to persuade Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce a criminal investigation into his political rival Joseph Biden and Biden’s son, Hunter, and that effort’s effect on US policy in the region. What was extraordinary about Vindman’s testimony were the reactions to his expression of patriotism. “As a young man,” he told the committee, “I decided that I wanted to spend my life serving this nation that gave my family refuge from authoritarian oppression. For the last 20 years it has been an honor to represent and protect this great country.”

This should have made Vindman a Republican poster boy, given the party’s routine invocation of love of country and encomiums to military valor. He still has shrapnel in his body from his combat tours in Iraq. Yet it was the Republicans who insulted him by casting doubt on his loyalty. Vindman was born in Ukraine to Jewish parents, and moved to the US with his father and brothers when he was just three years old. But the Republican counsel insinuated that he might feel a particular loyalty to Ukraine. Vindman even had to correct the ranking member of the committee, the Republican Devin Nunes, for failing to address him by his rank, and Fox News broadcast cynical insinuations that he was a double agent.

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