Rob Douglas: Sen. Graham’s proposed boycott
July 18, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Dear Sen. Lindsey Graham,
As you know, "with all due respect" usually means the opposite in political parlance. To be specific, in Washington, D.C., jargon, it often means the party employing the phrase believes the party being addressed is akin to the hind end of a gelding.
With that understanding, let's proceed.
Senator, with all due respect, your suggestion that the United States boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is the dumbest idea to emanate from our nation's capital since Rep. Hank Johnson suggested in 2010 that Guam could capsize if the military stationed additional personnel on the island.
On Tuesday, to the bewilderment and disgust of every American equipped with an IQ above that of a turnip, you told The Hill that President Barack Obama should consider boycotting the Olympics in February if Russia grants asylum to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Given that many in your profession can't remember the nonsense they said one day earlier, much less three, let's review the utterances that have folks calling you the Jimmy Carter of the Republican Party.
"I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them," you told The Hill. "It might help because what they're doing is outrageous. We certainly haven't reset our relationship with Russia in a positive way. At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it's a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States."
In typical D.C. fashion, you promoted your proposed Olympic boycott with a media blitz. Here's what you told NBC News:
"I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world. If they give asylum to a person I believe has committed treason against the United States, that's taking it to a new level."
Going further, according to NBC News, you "suggested that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's actions should raise the specter of the pre-World War II Berlin games hosted by Adolf Hitler's regime."
Senator, with all due respect, the first rule of political argument is never make comparisons to Hitler or the Nazis. The only atrocities comparable to those conducted by the Nazis under Hitler are those of the communist regimes of Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin.
Given that Steamboat Springs — known to the world as Ski Town USA — is the hometown of 79 athletes who've competed in the Winter Olympics since 1932, more than any other town in the U.S., I'm tempted to point out that only an imbecile would suggest boycotting the Olympics because the Obama administration and Congress are incompetent when it comes to dealing with Putin.
I'm tempted to point out that in Washington, you're best known as Sen. John McCain's Mini-Me and that McCain thinks a boycott is a foolish idea.
I'm tempted to point out that Speaker of the House John Boehner said about you, "He's dead wrong. Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who've been training three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can't find a place to call home?"
Finally, I'm tempted to point out that you couldn't begin to understand the training regimen and sacrifice that Olympic athletes undertake given that the only competition you excel at is elbowing other senators aside when a television camera is present.
I'm tempted to make those points — and many more from the same vein — but I won't. After all, to do so might be considered disrespectful.
So instead, I'll adopt the words of U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky.
"If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work," Sandusky said. "Our boycott of the 1980 Olympic games did not contribute to a successful resolution of the underlying conflict. It did, however, deprive hundreds of American athletes, all of whom had completely dedicated themselves to representing our nation at the Olympic Games, of the opportunity of a lifetime."
Senator, heed those wise words and stop calling for the sacrifice of Olympic athletes on the altar of American foreign policy.
With all due respect,
To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.