Today, while driving home, I listened to Washington's oracle of record, WTOP news, the radio avatar of the _Washington Post_. Commentator Mark Plotkin, a respected political pundit, expected me to laugh when he spoke of Sarah Palin's "gaffe" of being able to see Russia from her window.
Well, the usually intelligent-sounding Mr. Plotkin made himself, and by extension his employers, look pretty dang THTOOOOOOOOPID.
My mother and uncle were from Norse--oops, North-- Dakota, and would speak of Canadians as "neighbors", even though a good few miles of American wheatfields separated their old homestead from Line Forty-Nine. Given that Big and Little Diomede Islands in the Bering Sea are scarcely five miles apart, the USA and Russia do indeed share a border, albeit a maritime rather than land one. Hence, Mrs. Palin's saying she can see Russia from her window is a perfectly understandable figure of speech when coming from an Alaskan. Far more dangerous would be an Alaskan politician seeking national limelight while thinking that Russia is "far away". After all, the Alaskan indigenous Yupik and Aleut peoples also live in Russian territory, while before and after Vitus Bering, Aleuts were trading with Ainu people living in the southern Kuril islands. At least give Mrs. Palin credit for knowing her own state.
Plotkin's expectation that people who listen to WTOP news or read the _Washington Post_ should titter at Mrs. Palin's supposed ignorance of world affairs reveals something shockingly dangerous about supposedly "internationally sophisticated" Washingtonians: they look out from their windows and see only one of the two Oceans washing their country's shores, and probably understand only the safe zones of Western Europe when they venture abroad. While such a class of people were adequate leaders for the era from the Civil War to Woodrow Wilson, when Alaska could be written off as "Seward's Folly" and Siberia a mere icebox into which successive Russian regimes dumped criminals and dissidents, they are today a liability in a world in which no place is more than 24 hours away.
Please, Mr. Plotkin, stop making us Washington-area folks look provincial and ignorant.