Saturday, October 03, 2009

The wanking of the wankitrons

Color me kinda-sorta amused by the outbreak of right-wing joy at Chicago's defeat (along with Tokyo and Madrid) for the hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games. First, there's the odd spectacle that these people are actively rooting against the United States; further, there's the perception on their part that this is all about Barack Obama when the Bush Administration was also supportive of the Chicago Olympic effort, because, you know, American Presidential administrations tend to be supportive of holding Olympics in America.

This whole thing is staggeringly silly, of course, but it's precisely that silliness that is so revelatory of the rhetoric and the very thought behind it that now dominates the political right in this country. Their logic, on anything, boils down to exactly this:

PROPOSITION: Obama's position on Issue X is ______.

THEREFORE: Our position on Issue X is the exact opposite of ______.

COROLLARY: No factual information about the world will dissuade us from believing the opposite of Obama's position on Issue X.

SECOND COROLLARY: Any denial of what Obama wants, pertaining to Issue X, is a political win for us.

THIRD COROLLARY: Any denial of what Obama wants, pertaining to Issue X, is a colossal defeat for Obama and will be analyzed as a sign of how he will fare on all other Issues, no matter what those may be.

There is zero actual thought coming from the right these days. It's all just a bunch of knee-jerk reaction to them: Find out what Obama wants, and then oppose it. No matter what it is. I swear, these people would cheer if Obama ordered a pepperoni pizza and the pizzeria sent him a mushroom pizza by mistake. There's no sense of "Yes, this is an actual issue, but here's how we think it should be solved." There are no actual ideas on the right, aside from their continued religious belief that cutting taxes on rich people or bombing brown people will solve all problems. Nothing at all.

Especially interest to me is that third corollary up there. The theme of the day over at The Corner (where a number of the Right's greatest idiots, including Jonah Goldberg, reside) was that somehow Obama's failure to convince the Olympic Committee to award the games to Chicago somehow indicates something about the success of Obama's future foreign policy. Matthew Yglesias has some examples, and then points out the sheer stupidity on display there:

These are lame jokes, yes, but I also think they reveal the profound misunderstanding of how international relations works that exists on the right. The competition to host the 2016 Olympics is just that, a competition. It’s a friendly competition, yes, but it’s still a competition. It’s zero sum. If Rio wins, then Chicago and Sao Paulo and Tokyo lose. But the overall relationship between the United States and Iran is not a zero-sum competition. A world in which Iran accepts verifiable safeguards on its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and a relaxation of American sanctions is a world in which both the United States and Iran wind up better off. A world in which the US and Iran cooperate in Afghanistan is a world is which both the United States and Iran wind up better off. If we fight in Iran, we both wind up worse off.

And now, even as I'm writing this, I see that Newt Gingrich is saying the same thing, via his Twitter account. Remember when Gingrich was "the guy on the right with the ideas"? Well, OK, I don't either, but that's how the media saw him, and that's how they still see him, which is why the Twitter ramblings of a guy who was forced out of office by his own party more than ten years ago are still treated as newsworthy.

The Right's desperate need to see everything as a defeat for Barack Obama is embarrassing enough, but their general levels of cognitive dissonance are downright troubling. During the campaign, there was lots of comment about Obama's patriotism, or lack thereof, owing to the absence of a flag pin on the lapel of his jacket -- but somehow, cheering for Chicago to lose the Olympic bid is also patriotic. I well remember the tantrums the right used to have, during the Bush years, whenever any Democrat traveled overseas and said virtually anything that they could construe as being critical of the Bush foreign policy -- "Everybody should follow the President on foreign policy! Politics should stop at the water's edge! They're traitors!" I remember how un-American the Dixie Chicks were when one of them made an anti-Bush statement on the stage in Paris, but they sure lap it up when Sarah Palin criticizes Obama in Hong Kong. I will not be holding my breath, waiting for Republicans to denounce their own Senators who are traveling around the world to disrupt Administration policies.

Anyway, as for the Olympics themselves, congrats to Rio. I kind of hope they put the Olympic flame on top of Sugarloaf Mountain. But I also wonder if, given the apparently irritating political crap that's going to come up every time a host city is chosen and given the fact that Olympics represent enormous expense to their host cities, maybe it's time to simply put the Games someplace permanent -- say, Athens. That would solve some problems, wouldn't it? At least it would spare future US Presidents the unimaginable embarrassment of seeing their foreign policy credentials demolished by failing to secure a two-week quadrennial sporting event.

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