A significant moment in the Trump presidency occurred on Tuesday when a serving member of the US Army put on his uniform.

Such commonplace events aren’t normally headline news but when that serviceman is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an expert on Ukraine serving on the National Security Council, then his uniform becomes something greater in the national story. It’s precisely why Oliver North became part of the contemporary mythology of America. But in the case of Vindman, there was something more nuanced than the starch stiff, honest, upright Marine giving testimony to Congress during Iran-Contra. The uniform lent credence to the Congressional committee before whom Vindman gave testimony. It deflected attacks that had come from the more extreme wing of the conservative caucus. It even returned some of the fire back in the direction from where it originated.

It was the uniform that ensured that Vindman’s testimony was materially different to that offered last Tuesday, when Bill Taylor, the US ambassador to Ukraine, sat down with the joint committee pursuing the impeachment of this president. Taylor’s appearance was meant to have changed the dynamics of the probe, providing what all the major new networks described as a “tipping point”. At the time that sounded overstated and so it has proved. Rather than see a tectonic change that made the President’s eventual removal from office more likely, Taylor merely confirmed facts we already knew, though importantly he did link Trump to the “quid-pro-quo” arrangement by which President Zelensky would receive US aid in exchange for opening an investigation into Burisma, the energy company with links to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

Yet if that sounds too long and complicated to remember, don’t worry. It is. Taylor also provided a long statement which the newspapers ran with evident glee, forgetting as they did so that the central rubric of the impeachment process is that the Democrats must keep it simple.

And that’s what made Vindman so different. There are few things as simple as American patriotism and just as “I thank you for your service” has entered the network news lexicon, so too has the rule that the loyalty of a serviceman or woman should never be questioned. Yet that is exactly what happened Monday night when Fox News sought to get ahead of the following day’s testimony.