Saturday, October 03, 2009

G.O.P. - Political points worth more than nation's interests

It's official, the United States will not be hosting the 2016 Olympics. Now me, someone who isn't the least bit interested in sports nor the Olympics, I don't really care much. I don't see much reason, really, to respect the Olympics when horrendous human-rights violators like Nazi Germany and Communist China have been allowed to host the games. Nevertheless, this time around I'm interested enough to write about it.

One reason is because I'm actually glad that Rio de Janeiro won. I think it was appropriate that South America, for the first time ever, is going to host an Olympic game. I know that hosting the Olympics means a lot to a lot of people. It's a status-symbol and can also help a local and even national economy. It really wasn't fair that with all the Olympic games held in so many states and nations and continents, had never been held in South America.

I'm also taking the time to write about this because of the ridiculousness that has surrounded President Obama making an effort to get the games held here in the U.S. I couldn't imagine folks, especially flag-waving Republicans who love to profess American exceptionalism, now criticizing the President for making a genuine effort to bring the Olympics to the U.S. again, but to actually go so far as to be gleeful that the games will not be held here? That's just beyond the pale.

As soon as I heard that President Obama was going to Copenhagen to try pitch our case to the International Olympic Committee, I could agree with the talking heads in punditland that the president had enough on his plate, but taking a few hours out of his day to give a speech and meet with some folks seemed unlikely to lead to us losing the war or the economy coming completely unraveled or healthcare reform from getting passed, so, I figured what harm could it do. It made sense, too, when many claimed that he probably wouldn't be going unless he felt confident that we were going to win. Of course, I also realized that if the U.S. didn't win, partisan thugs who put their political wants over the interests of their country would have a field day with it. But sure enough they were already criticizing him anyway for bothering to take an interest.

Of course, I also knew that if he didn't go and we didn't get to hold the olympics that he would be blamed for not making a personal appeal. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. More politics-as-usual—rank hypocrisy, inconsistency & dishonesty.

So, Mr. Obama went, and the committee decided on Rio over the U.S., Spain, and Japan. I think that was the best decision, if for no other reason than because South America hadn't hosted a game before. I don't think it was a mistake for him to go. And frankly, I find it arrogant, this school of thought, that a president shouldn't make such an appearance unless he knows he's going to get his way. How about show a little humility and some sacrifice? If we really would like for an olympic game to be held here why shouldn't we send our president to lobby for it? Are we really so special that our president should only meet with the olympic committee if they let us host the game? I don't think so. In fact, I think it is refreshing that we finally have a president that is willing to put in effort to get what he wants instead of feeling entitled and believing that his appearance is reward for obeisance.

The talking heads will frame this as embarrassment, a huge debacle, a failure. Some right-wingers are proclaiming that this proves that the world is rejecting Mr. Obama. Which these people welcome since, as a nation, we're supposed to act unilaterally to the world because of the rest of the world's apparent obvious inferiority to us. And one can certainly understand Republican resentment over the fact that there was a total world rejection of their guy, George W. Bush, while the Democratic president has been widely popular.

In closing, Mr. Obama is being depicted as having lost in all of this. Actually, the real losers here are the partisan, anti-American hacks who care more about scoring some political 'points' against Barack Obama than they do about the United States winning the chance to host the 2016 Olympics.

Amusingly appropriate take on Republican reaction

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