Trump’s Impeachment Reminds Me of a Soviet Era Joke

Leonid Brezhnev

The passions whose flames are being fanned on both sides by the Trump impeachment trial bring to mind a joke that Russians would tell each other (if they felt confident the KGB wouldn’t overhear them) back in the 1970s when I was posted to the U.S. consulate-general in Leningrad (today, St. Petersburg).

At the time, Leonid Brezhnev was the general secretary of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union) and, because the USSR was a one-party state, he was top dog in the Kremlin.

Here’s the joke as I heard it from a Soviet acquaintance:

One day, the minister for posts (the Soviet Union’s counterpart of the postmaster general in the U.S.) knocked timidly on the door to Brezhnev’s office. Brezhnev called him in.

“Comrade Brezhnev,” the minister began, looking worried, “I have some bad news.”

“What’s the problem?” asked Brezhnev.

“It’s about the new 50-kopek stamp with your picture on it. It keeps falling off letters.”

A Soviet commemorative stamp with Brezhnev’s portrait

“Why is it falling off?”

“We did an investigation, Comrade Brezhnev. We discovered that half the people who buy the stamp are spitting on the wrong side.”

“What about everyone else?”

“The rest of the people are licking so eagerly that there’s no glue left.”

This makes me think of those who detest Trump and those who love him. Good thing his photo is not on a postage stamp — yet!

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