Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some random thoughts

Just a couple of quick hit thoughts for the day.

It appears that one loser wants to buy another loser. Gosh, what else is there to say? I guess everyone has the right to their opinions but since when did one man's opinions seem to serve as the platform of a political party instead of serving to support the platform of the party? And come to think of it, if the bid is successful, does that mean that the team will be kept in St. Louis instead of moving to Los Angeles (as seems to be the rampant belief these days)? But, in the habit of trying to keep a moderate opinion that is balanced on both sides of the fence, I have a similar amount of respect for plagiarists and mean-spirited comedians/radio hosts/politicians (though, thinking about it, is there really that much of a difference between the two - other than the official titles, I mean).

So the president goes to make a pitch for the Olympics and ends up with egg on his face when not only is Chicago denied, but it is the first to be knocked out of the voting. For a man who got elected through his ability to convince people to believe as he wants, it does not make him look very good. Frankly, the move was a lose-lose situation. By going, he takes attention away from other, more pressing issues (say, like health-care reform or the war in Afghanistan) and, by losing the bid, he opens up a new avenue of potential criticism at home. And it did not take long for the criticism to start by many of his Republican opponents who have been desperately looking for any reason to find fault with his actions. While his actions may not have been the best use of his efforts - not to mention his political capital and star power - some of the critics who were openly boasting that the president was a failure or happy with the loss have opened themselves to questions of their own actions. After all, the loss is a loss for the country as a whole, not just Chicago and certainly not just President Obama. (Seriously, who would not want to see the Olympics hosted in the US?) Somehow, I'd be willing to bet that had it been former President Bush (43), some of those current critics would be singing a far different tune. Or, more precisely, the position of the Democrats and Republicans would be reversed. It seems that public service is increasingly being determined as service only in the name of a political ideology instead of the good of the citizenry and the nation. Compromise is not a dirty word.

Finally, what is the reasoning behind President Obama's decision to not meet with the Dalai Lama when he visits the US this week? Instead, any official meeting will be put off until after he goes to China in November. Come to think of it, this probably should not be so surprising since it is not the first time he's been unable to meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader. I guess this means, quite obviously, that the reasoning is entirely political and is serving only to try to ingratiate himself with the Chinese government - the same government that has blasted the Dalai Lama as a "splittist" who is trying to break Tibet away from China. Or, to look at it another way, after angering Chinese officials with his recent tariffs on Chinese-made tires, he's now hoping to make amends by not meeting with the Dalai Lama. The problem with this action is that it reduces the credibility he (and the government and nation he represents) possesses as the leader of a free and open nation with respect for human rights. Certainly, it can be argued that the US has always acted in its own self-interest and human rights is secondary, but the reality is that many people throughout the world look to the US as the land of freedom and opportunity. Tarnished that belief may now be after the last 10 years or so, but it is an enduring image that will only suffer further indignities by this slight against a man that many view as a symbol of peace and hope. Additionally, even if he meets the Dalai Lama at a later date, the Chinese government will still be furious as it does not view any official meetings between the Dalai Lama and other international leaders with favor. So, any possible gains are short-term and tenuous at best.

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