A Matter of Perspective
For the past three weeks, the country has been pretty-well inundated with Trump, Ukraine and impeachment. And though we're all getting largely the same news, the challenge has been keeping up, missing some and hearing how different people analyze it. So, it was sort of weird and refreshing yesterday to get an aspect of the story from a totally different perspective.
Not a deep, substantive perspective, just one skimming across the surface. Still, though,when a different angle shows up in a sea of All the Same, you appreciate it.
I was talking with a cousin yesterday, when a thought occurred to me. "Your wife," I said, as the little light bulb went on above my head, "she's from Ukraine, isn't she?!"
Actually, I knew she was from Ukraine. We'd discussed it briefly a year ago or so, but on a totally different story at the time, of course. Back then, the news was about Paul Manafort, his coming trial and how his PR company had been paid over $60 million by Ukraine. What bemused her about it all was that that may have been more than the entire military budget of the country.
And I knew, too, that my grandfather Morton Leviton was from Ukraine. He was born in Odessa, and came to the United States early on, getting his naturalized citizenship in 1912 at the age of 27. He became an architect though passed away long before I was born. He was my mother’s father, and she absolutely, totally adored him, naming my brother John’s middle name was after him. His wife, my Grandma Rose, was one of the utter joys of my life.
But much of that sort of stayed resting in the back of my mind, relaxing amid the Trump circus. I certainly remembered my grandfather's connection to Ukraine, but that was such a minor part of everything, it fell mostly in the Bemused Category.
So, it wasn't until yesterday talking with my cousin that the far greater connection he had -- and far greater connection his wife has -- bubbled to the surface. (The two of them actually met in Ukraine, for that matter, so his knowledge of the country was more than tangential. And hers is continual, still with family there and in regular contact.)
What I was curious about was how this story -- one that is so profoundly consuming on a non-stop hourly basis to the United States for it being centered on the likely impeachment of the president and which is focused entirely on Ukraine as the foundation of it all -- is seen in Ukraine. Was something this overwhelmingly impactful to the United States as big a news story in Ukraine...or of so little interest that it doesn't even register much.
And the answer, he said, is the latter.
It just isn't much of a story there. And there are two reasons -- one thoroughly understandable, the other a bit bemusing. The first, he said, is that the far, far, far bigger story there is that the country is actually in a war with Russia, and the survival of the country is at the core of people's lives. Not a constitutional issue 3,000 miles away. (Although of course it's worth nothing that at the heart of that constitution issue of impeachment is the matter of holding up $391 million in military aid to the country in their fight.) The other reason, more on the whimsical side, is that given how totally corrupt Ukraine is, another country's corruption is meaningless to them. In fact, in many ways it's just a given. Not even remotely headline news.
As I said, this is not earth-shattering, deep perspective on the story. But it certainly is intriguing to look at this swamp from a different angle. And even, when it gets a bit overwhelming, somewhat nice...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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