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Friday, August 15, 2008

State of the Union

As is my wont, I am perpetually up to date on current events political and military not to mention sports, and when a confluence of events occurs to me that I haven’t seen anyone else recognize, I start itching to address it. It all started a week or so ago when Barack Obama essentially told a little girl who asked him why he wanted to be President that, “America is no longer what it could be… what it once was.” I actually agree with him and it has been bugging me ever since.

I have been reading about how many people are not really into watching the Olympics and I can assure you that I am not one of them. I have a deep appreciation for athletic excellence and to witness the yield of many years invested in becoming the best. I also enjoy watching Americans dominate the world on this peaceful stage and receive a “thrill up my leg” watching our athletes on that medal stand above their foreign competitors with their hands over their hearts relishing our National Anthem. I honestly get a bit misty every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner and especially when it is played as a serenade to American Olympic victory. But I get the feeling that fewer and fewer Americans share my deep and abiding pride for our country as compared to the past.

I remember most the 1984 Olympics in my hometown of Los Angeles where I was privileged to witness several of Carl Lewis’ historic Gold Medals (although we had lousy seats and I could hardly see). I recall Mary Lou Retton winning the Gymnastic’s All Around Gold, Zola Budd knocking down Mary Decker in the 3000m, and the crazy pastel/fluorescent color of everything in town. The Soviets and the Warsaw Pact countries boycotted in retaliation of Moscow 1980 and Afghanistan was the latest conquest of the Russian empire. Funny, the more things change, the more they stay the same. But there was one thing that those Olympics and that America certainly wasn’t lacking for and that was pride in our athletes, our city, and most importantly our country. Maybe I’m a weirdo, but there is no ecstasy like the feeling I receive when I witness my nation and its citizens living up to the ideals and history that make this the greatest nation the world has ever known. The only thing better that that feeling, is the sense that I am sharing it with the rest of America.

I haven’t felt that I was sharing it for some time now. It seems that all things wrong and evil in this world can somehow be attributed to America. It may be a trifling thing, but watching Bob Costas mocking US Gymnastics coach Bela Carolyi for cheering on his girls and invoking some ephemeral “journalistic neutrality” doctrine is a bit much. Who does he think NBC is broadcasting to? Why shouldn’t they be cheering for our athletes? Of course there are many more egregious examples starting with Iraq and extending through the current Georgian crisis. Ole Bob took care to mention while showing the medal count that it really wasn’t important and should not really be emphasized, but for all of you non-world citizens out there- here you go. What the fuck is he talking about? What else matters? I’d like to see a medal count that showed US medals and the medals earned by athletes who did not train for the Olympics in the US. Every other swimmer and track athlete that is in contention trains using our facilities, coaches, food, security and general comfort just so they can with their medals and say they beat the American guy. Well, I’d like to see Kristy Coventry of Zimbabwe set Olympic records training at home instead of at Auburn University.

Which brings me to the current situation where my own countrymen cannot distinguish the difference between our invasion of Iraq and the Russian invasion of Georgia. I’d almost like to think that these foolish people are simply advocating indirectly for their presidential candidate by taking such a ridiculous position, but then I realize that their willingness to throw our country and its foundational principles under the bus for a political candidate’s fortunes is an explicit act of betrayal as opposed to rank stupidity. But they aren’t all THAT stupid now are they? Am I questioning their patriotism? Indeed I am. We have seen this before. We all remember the nuclear freezers, the hippies, and now the modern Democrats. It’s just that back in the 60’s and the 80’s it didn’t seem like there were so many people so eager to disparage their country, its leaders, and their motives. Perhaps the concentration of these types of people in the press is giving them a disproportionate voice, but that voice itself is harmful and is doing harm every day.

This is a truly scary election as these self-loathing Americans are foisting their poster child onto the scene with a relish and sense of urgency that I do not recall. I tend to agree with Senator Obama about the state of the union, but I hope that it can be turned around. He just the guy who’s not able to do it.