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Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman Doesn't Scare Easily. But It's Shameful We Have to Say So.

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS - Getty Images

From Esquire

En route to Atlanta Tuesday morning, so I’ll be taking the congressional impeachment hearings in on TV like everybody else. But, hours before the show began, the Wall Street Journal contributed what likely will be the saddest two paragraphs of the day’s coverage.

The U.S. Army is prepared to move Col. Vindman and his family onto a military base in the area to ensure their safety if it is determined that they are in physical danger, according to U.S. officials.

Army security officials in recent weeks conducted a security assessment at Col. Vindman’s request, reviewing both his and his family’s physical security and their online security, according to U.S. officials.

Is this the place where we’re at? I mean, Vindman had to expect to be picked at by duckbrained goofballs like Senator Ron (Shreds of Freedom) Johnson. That’s politics. But Vindman has worked in this administration*, so he knows what some of the people around this president* are capable of. And, knowing that, he wants his own safety and that of his family secured. Are judges really worth building a political climate in which this seems normal? Are tax cuts? A decorated Army veteran wants to testify before the Congress about what his experience tells him is a serious national security problem, and he has to have Army intel case the situation before he does?

Photo credit: Bill Clark - Getty Images

The situation is not unprecedented. John Dean went into hiding before, during, and after his devastating testimony before the Senate Select Committee exploring Watergate. Valerie Plame had her career destroyed because of something her husband did. In Tuesday’s Washington Post, Michael Gerson, the onetime spokesman for the administration that destroyed Valerie Plame’s career, was saddened by the state of our politics. Being saddened by the state of our politics is Gerson’s primary gig now that he no longer is employed as the guy who put verbs in George W. Bush’s sentences. Buckle up, America. We’re heading into some rhetorical crosswinds.

Partisan extremes in the United States have become entirely consequentialist in their ethics. The overriding goal may be the end of Roe v. Wade — or its preservation. It may be passage of gun control legislation — or protection of the Second Amendment. In each case, the objective — always measured in saved lives — means everything.

Michael Gerson: Machiavelli’s spiritual advisor.

Why should we care? Because democracy is hard to sustain in the absence of certain values. Self-government requires ethical hierarchy — a belief that honor is better than dishonor, fairness is better than exploitation and truth is superior to lies. American freedom is not based on relativism; it is based on the belief that the dignity of human beings is a knowable, universal truth. And the success of that principle is demonstrated in the way we treat each other.

An “ethical hierarchy”? From a spokesman for the administration that took office through the ratfcking of the Florida recount? The party of the Brooks Brothers riot and Roger Stone? The party of voter caging, voter purging, and general voter suppression? The administration that lied us into a war and made us a country that tortures people and buried the evidence of both so deeply that we’ll never find all of it?

We indeed are in a tough political moment, brought to us primarily by a political party in which the prion disease, left untended for 40 years, now controls all the party’s higher functions. It will pass, and we will have to count the cost. But for now, Colonel Alexander Vindman is going to step up and tell the truth of things. It should be a great comfort to know that Vindman doesn’t scare easily. It should also be a source of great shame to know that the question even had to be asked. Gerson should clean up his own house first.

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