The Lileks Zone

Don’t you question my patriotism!

Treacher pointed us all to this:

And to think, just a few months ago, it was unpatriotic to go without a flag pin. Now, however, actively rooting for your country to lose an Olympic bid is PATRIOTISM DEFINED!

No, my good fellow, we didn’t think you were unpatriotic because you didn’t wear a flag pin. We thought it was amusing how some on the left spazzed out when the flag was in vogue for a while, as though the appearance of Old Glory in a moment of national woe heralded an era of mandatory pledges, blood oaths in torchlit stadiums, and the passing of the National Conformity Act that would require men to wear hats and women to be chained, barefoot, to stoves. No, it was the way you made fun of the people who wore flag pins or hung out the flag. That was telling, no?

Anyway. Personally, I am happy we didn’t get the Olympics. They’re expensive and leave giant stadiums in their wake, like the droppings of some enormous Godzilla. Cities go deeply into debt to fund them, and aside from the momentary tourist boom (Kyoto has seen its tourism influx wane in recent years, I suspect) they exist to pump up the resumes of local officials and make everyone in local government feel “world class” – meaning, I suppose, they get to have luncheons with dapper Europeans in nice shoes who speak Swiss and everything. Ah, but you’re jealous: your town wasn’t in the running. You’d feel differently. No: Minneapolis was one of the cities named to host the quarter- or semi-finals of the soccer games, just a mile or two from my office.

Not wanting the Olympics is not the same as wanting America to fail. I wanted America to succeed at not getting the Olympics, and we did it. USA! USA! As for wanting President Obama to fail, this is one of those tricky concepts that enflamed the left in the first few months of the administration. There are certain things the right would be more than happy to see President Obama succeed at doing. Say, degrading Iran’s petroleum infrastructure with some covert ops that takes out a refinery now and then, which either brings down the regime through domestic unrest or brings them to the table begging for terms. Just a thought. If the left believes the right would react to the fall of the mullahs by grabbing their legs and splitting themselves in half like Rumplestiltskin, shouting DAMN THAT KENYAN PRETENDER, the left may well be reliving its own reaction to the fall of Baghdad through its usual prism. (Also known as “a mirror.”)

When it comes to yanking the country leftwards, piling up a Himalayan of debt and digging deficits as deep as the Marianas Trench, jump-starting inflation, wasting a few loose trillions on “stimulus” packages that are as effective as heart-defibrillator panels on King Tut’s mummy, passing health-care laws the legislators themselves cannot understand or bear to read, well, yes: failure is an option, devoutly to be wished. If you believe these things are bad for America, you don’t want them to happen. Seems rather simple.

Unless one believes that Obama is somehow the embodiment and personification of America, of course. I doubt the President thinks so, but he does give the impression of one who believes he contains its essence in a remarkably rarified and distilled form. Hence the groans over the Olympic speech, the incessant personalization of the narrative by the POTUS and the FLOTUS.

Yes, Laura Ingraham did react with a joke about Michelle Obama’s arms, which you find extraordinary, but here’s how it works: if we get lots of glowing stories about the Amazing Impressive and Accomplished First Lady’s toned arms, people who have not drunk the Kool-Aid until their kidneys slosh are going to make fun of the fact that everyone was impressed with the tautness of the underside of her upper arms, and seen it as one more manifestation of the Age of Total Awesomeness in which we are privileged to live. The idea applies elsewhere, too: if you don’t approach every issue with the assumption that President Obama is the smartest, coolest guy on the planet, a lot of what he does seems like a parade of pretty prancing ponies, sent out to impress bad guys who travel by tank.

There’s just one more thing that bothers many on the right. If talk is cheap, why has the last ten months cost us so much?

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