The Corner

Olympian Politics

On a more serious note, I just don’t know what the political fallout of the Olympics news will be. My gut says that we may be making too big a deal out of it. It seems to me that inside the beltway this is a really big thing because everyone assumed the fix was in. In that sense, I think it probably hurts him in ways that are extremely difficult to quantify. But the beltway only matters so much.

Outside the beltway I can see things going either way or, more likely, both ways. Some, who are growing weary of Obama’s tendency to think he can simply charm his way through everything by putting his mug out there will see this as another “more cowbell” episode. On the other hand, a lot of people will say, with some merit, “Well, at least he tried.”

I don’t think these views are at all contradictory, by the way. And my hunch is that those who will see this negatively, already see him negatively. And those who see it positively, see him positively. I kind of doubt there will be much movement from one camp to the other.

Update: A lot of e-mail in response. This is representative of many:

Jonah,

No offense intended, but I think that you’re perspective on the Olympics is too “in the beltway.” Thankfully, most Americans could care less about most political discussions. Healthcare, Iran’s nuclear program, cap and trade, all these things make most people’s eyes glaze over. But, Americans don’t like to lose. It would have been bad enough for the US to lose out to Rio, but, Obama raised the stakes by putting his (and therefore the country’s) prestige on the line. I think this sense of Obama = loser is going to stick in people’s minds for a long time.

This one too:

Hi, Jonah. Unlike much of the political and economic arcana that has illustrated Obama’s failures, this one comes in an area that tens of millions of largely apolitical Americans are very emotionally invested in, sports. This is the lead story on ESPN right now. Lots of people who to this day have never heard of ACORN or Tim Geithner or TARP are being exposed to a major Obama failure. So I don’t at all see this as just an “inside the Beltway” failure; it’s more outside the Beltway than anything that’s ever been laid at his feet before.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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