Just to assure you from the outset as we wander into politics for a moment : I’m a red-blooded American .
First , I’m an American . I can show you my passport . It’s not a forged one either . I know that because when I went through Passport Control in Belarus , the official checked it out extremely carefully . She had a magnifying loop that she used to scan all the secret stuff embedded in a US passport that should be embedded in a US passport . Evidently it was all in there . (If I had an extremely good forger , however , she failed to uncover that .) We’ll just move along like there’s no problem and just go about our business . After a few tense moments she did just that , the uniformed protector of her nation , and my passport passed inspection .
I know about my blood being red because anywhere I go nowadays I tend to bleed . When I work in the garden for awhile , inevitably I reenter the house with a long , by then dry , trail of blood usually on my arm , sometimes on my leg , from some tiny , usually imperceptible wound apparently inflicted from snagging a thorn or a branch or bumping against a this or a that . It’s annoying .
Just call me Alexei Nikolaevich . You know , the Czar’s son ? No ? Okay , forget it .
Anyway , while in Belarus I was speaking with a young woman a bit about politics . She asked me what Americans really think about President Trump . That kind of a question in that kind of a setting kind of puts a guy on the spot . I tried to be representative of all Americans . That’s not so easy , but I had to do it anyhow .
Rest easy . I told her the truth . I threw in my opinion too , of course , but I labelled it as such . She told me that their press is not censored in Belarus , that she can get any and all world news over the internet . No problem . But she wanted to hear from a real honest -to-god American the inside story . Well , as I said , the rest of you Americanos were at that moment at my mercy . I tried to do you all justice . Rest assured . (Well , a third of you might disagree with my analysis of the country even though it was in my opinion a fair one , but that can’t be helped).
She told me that the president of Belarus ( a true dictator ) continually asks the people of Belarus to compare themselves to North Korea , as if to say : At least we’re better than them ! She thought that his proffered comparison was a bit weird . Somewhat defeatist too , of course , we agreed .
And now I’ve been hearing our White House using the same kind of arguments to defend Mr. Trump and his bumpy ride through his presidential term . Their talking points , voiced by every Trump supporter lately , try to blame the Clintons and Obama , and sometimes Bush II and even Bush I and others for being more corrupt , or colluding more with the Russians , absconding with more money for themselves , making bigger blunders , or spending more money more foolishly , or whatever .
Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio , for example , for what critics say is a no-good reason , but Clinton , the Trump folk reply , pardoned so-and-so for no good reasons too , and so , and so , what’s the problem !
What have we come to ? I used to hear this kind of stuff on the playground when kids got in trouble .( I wonder if Truman’s sign “The Buck Stops Here ” is still on the desk in the Oval Office ? ) It’s a childish tactic , at best —- from children , but we’re hearing it from adults in the government . It’s an admission : I’m bad , but s/he’s worse !
That’s not a good argument . It’s like the North Korea comparison .
And then there’s the eternal argument over who’s a real red-blooded American ? Who’s more patriotic ? Who loves the country more and who doesn’t love the country at all ? And all of that . Most of it is flack fired into the turbid skies of worry , just in case , just in case , just in case the enemy is on the way .
The Belarussian gal asked me what is the one thing I like best about the USA .( She had one in mind for Belarus , quickly , right on the tip of her tongue . ) I gave her my answer after a moment’s consideration . I wonder what some other Americans’ answers would have been .