|Dimitry Strashnov, center, CEO of Pochta Rossi, the Russia postal service, looks at first day ceremony for Trump stamp.|
The most outrageous thing about Donald Trump is that there is no most outrageous thing. There can't be. The man is a constant whirlwind of outrage. Nixon had the drip drip drip of Watergate. Trump is a fire hose of ethical lapses, a new Watergate every day if not every hour. Outrage over Tuesday's shock barely builds before Wednesday's jaw-dropper arrives, and those still going on about Monday's astonishment seem positively mired in the hazy past.
Thus I was only mildly surprised to read in Linn's Stamp News, and nowhere else, that two weeks ago the Russians featured their pal, President Donald Trump, with his own postage stamp. This is the first time the Russians have ever honored a U.S. president, and while the Russian issued the stamp without explanation, it doesn't take a genius to see what is going on here. One hand washes the other.
Trump's reaction was pure, well, Trump: "I'm much better looking than that," he told Fox News' Brett Baier. "I am a very, very handsome man."
What adult says things like that?
Yes, on one hand, like so many of the tawdry occurrences during the Trump administration, this is dwarfed in significance by worse excesses: his war against immigrants, Muslims, the environment, health care—thwarted at the moment, but just wait—against a free press, fair elections, free trade, internet privacy, the very idea of factuality itself, our most precious possession...the list goes on, but you see what I mean.
Nor do we need the Russians to issue a stamp in order to illustrate their fondness for our 45th president—their machinations to throw the election to him demonstrated that aplenty.
And yet. Somehow. Maybe because I'm a former stamp collector—that's why I check Linn's Stamp News from time to time—the new Trump stamp somehow embodies all these ills in one flimsy paper parcel.
This isn't the first time the Russians have honored those in the West who do their bidding, you know. In 1990, the Soviet Union issued a stamp honoring British double agent Kim Philby. But the Trump stamp is, in a sense, worse. Philby was dead when the stamp came out. Trump is very much alive and doing, well, whatever it is he's doing that makes the Russian love him so.
The Trump stamp, by the way, was designed by an American, graphic designer, Patrick O'Neil, who has not only created stamps for a number of infamous regimes, including a series of stamps glorifying Saddam Hussein, but also created the graphic presence for the Pakistani military government, including a pamphlet entitled, "Why Am I Being Tortured?"
|On sale last week in Moscow|
Meanwhile, though I haven't purchased any new stamps to augment my boyhood collection in years, I plan to shell out the $2.25 plus shipping for one from Loral Stamps, which specializes in Russian stamps online, and get my own copy of the Russian 25 kopek Trump stamp. Not as a collector's item, nor because I think they will become valuable. But because I believe it represents, as all good stamps will, an embodiment of its historic moment, a moment that sees an American president in thrall to our nation's bitterest opponent, and that opponent boldly blowing kisses back in his direction. It would look tawdry in fiction but it is, as this new stamp starkly reminds us, all too real.
If you'd like your own Trump stamp, you can order one by clicking here.