Thrust Into An American Scandal, Ukraine’s President Dubbed ‘Monica Zelensky’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky finds himself in he middle of an historic American scandal, and with a new nickname.
Ukraine’s President isn’t exactly thrilled about being stuck in the middle of an American impeachment scandal and a partisan fight between Donald Trump and his political rivals:
Ukraine president Vlodymyr Zelensky probably always dreamed of being an internationally known household name, given his first chosen profession was acting.
But the actor-turned-president, who ran on an anti-corruption platform and won this spring—after playing a similar role on TV—probably never dreamed he’d end up at the center of an international kerfuffle that could sink the most powerful man in the world.
Still, that’s exactly where he finds himself. A phone call between Zelensky and US president Donald Trump has triggered an impeachment inquiry that has everyone recalling the last time the US government went down this road: the 1998 impeachment of then-president Bill Clinton.
If Zelensky is lucky, he will not end up tarnished by the intrigue surrounding him. Lewinsky did. And Ukrainians seem to have mixed feelings (in Ukrainian) about their country’s newfound fame. “Now the country of Ukraine is known to the whole world,” TV presenter Taras Berezovets wrote on Facebook. But as Ukrainian diplomat Pavlo Klimkin joked on social media, “Whatever happens, in the history of the United States, Ukraine will remain the country that led to the impeachment of the US President. Not a very fun prospect. But now everyone knows what we are capable of “
Zelensky has even earned a new, and likely undesired, nickname:
Less than a day after the leadership of the Democratic Party agreed to proceed full-throttle to throttle Donald Trump, the novice Ukrainian leader and former stage comedian who inadvertently may have caused the downfall of an American president already had gained a new nickname across the former Soviet Union: “Monica Zelensky.”
In Washington, D.C., the capital digested a partial, abbreviated and perhaps sanitized read-out of five minutes of the 30-minute July phone call in which Trump offered the aid of his attorney as well as his attorney general in fingering Joe Biden & Son for alleged trans-Carpathian malfeasance. Democratic commanders were quick to label this “a matter of urgent national-security concern,” “banana Republic-ism,” and “a seminal event.”
It was Bill Clinton’s own seminal event, of course, that led to his impeachment—and acquittal—in 1998, a scenario that remains the likely outcome of Trump’s prosecution as long as Senate Republicans remain united behind him. No evidence was presented Wednesday that the Grand Old Party was hemorrhaging—au contraire, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was reported to have raised one million defence-fund dollars at a GOP dinner Tuesday night.
In New York on Wednesday, the home-standing president, after meeting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in person for the first time, was defiant—even welcoming—of the siege to come.
“You take a look at that call and it was perfect. I didn’t do it. There was no quid pro quo. But there was with Biden,” Trump declared at a news conference. “There are a lot of very dishonest people. We’re the ones who played it straight, and you know, there are millions of people out there looking at what’s going on. Those people understand it. They see it, and they think it’s disgusting.”
Of his would-be defenestrators, including the current House Speaker, he added: “Our people are being hurt and our country is being hurt when a Nancy Pelosi allows her position to be taken over by radical, far-left socialists, or worse. That’s pretty bad.” mpletely pro-Ukraine.”
Obviously, neither Zelensky nor Ukraine as a whole really wants to be in this position. From the foreign policy point of view, Ukraine needs to maintain good relations with the United States regardless of which party is in political party is in power. Being seen as the puppet of a Republican President doesn’t exactly help with that goal, although Zelensky can probably take solace in the fact that for now at least, he is being viewed as something of a victim of Donald Trump’s who was dragged into a scandal he obviously never wanted to be a part of.
Back home in Ukraine, this whole thing doesn’t seem to be helping Zelensky’s standing and political position. As I’ve noted before, Zelensky is a political neophyte who has only been in office for five months. In that short period, he now finds himself, obviously unwillingly, thrust into the middle of a scandal in Washington that is likely to focus a harsh light on the issue of corruption in his home country. That’s not going to help him domestically or internationally.