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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

LETTER FROM VLADIVOSTOK: Dear America, Please: Get a Grip on Yourself




Dear America:


When Russia wants to create a scandal, it stashes its national treasure into Caribbean 24-hour check cashing outlets. It transfers its fishing fleet to bankrupt firms, or fires four prime ministers within 17 months. Russia, in short, knows how to stir up a stink over something important.


As for the Land of the Free, a government nearly fell this year because a four-year prosecutorial effort ended in the discovery of a crusty spot on a Gap dress. Worse yet, the matter won't die. Respected citizens of the world's most pathetic democracy, please note. When Hillary Rodham Clinton says, as she did in an interview last week, that her husband is a philanderer because his mother and grandmother used to fight a lot, this is not a scandal. Perhaps it is self-delusion. Or it might be a sadder story of a wife trying to justify her love for a man who won't stop cheating on her.


But it is not an occasion for shouted questions in a press conference, not even in New York, where Mrs. Clinton is an undeclared Senate candidate.


Allow a native son to convey a plea from every Russian I know: Get a grip. You're embarrassing yourselves.


Television producers and big-haired news anchors, listen up. Congressmen, unplug the fax and the phones. Glassy-eyed citizens glued to MSNBC, hit the mute button.


Let's look at your national checkbook. How much foreign aid do you distribute to make the world more like you? You host film festivals and bring young executives to Washington to learn how the world should work. I hate to break the bad news, but your politics inspire no one here.


Oh, of course, they envy your houses, your computers, your incomes capable of providing cell phones to teenagers in giant pants. They perhaps even envy your real strengths - your sense of fair play, your stability. But they consider your political obsessions a joke that can't be repeated around children.


My friends (look, would you put down the remote?), it is untrue what some say: that America has no problems, so it invents them. Life in Russia may be on average far more dismal than in America, but your slums are worse than anything one sees here. Your race relations are abysmal. Consider New York, where cops in recent years raped one black male suspect with a broomstick and shot another unarmed civilian 40 times. Even your war between the sexes draws sniggers abroad.


I am not, God forbid, suggesting that you turn to Russia for answers. But the next time you break into sweats over the Clintons' dirty linen, here's a plan: Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and pour a bucket of ice water down your shorts. They say it works. And the rest of the world will thank you.


Yours truly,


Russell Working