The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Late last week, boom-boom neocon extraordinaire Max Boot had an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times lamenting about how the Olympics currently suck because the Cold War has gone the way of the dodo and the Republican deficit-hawk.
To get into the Olympic spirit, I recently watched "Miracle," a Disney docudrama about the American hockey team's improbable victory over the reigning Soviet champions at Lake Placid, N.Y., in 1980. It didn't work. All it did was make clear the vast chasm between the exciting events depicted in the movie and the bloated, cheerless extravaganza due to start Friday.

The stakes couldn't have been higher in 1980 — or lower today. Back then, the contest on ice was, quite literally, a "cold war" between two superpowers. Something similar happened at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which Hitler staged as a tribute to the Aryan ubermensch, only to be shown up by the prowess of African American sprinter Jesse Owens.

There might be equally high drama today if our current enemies chose to compete in sporting events. Unfortunately, if Al Qaeda fielded an Olympic team it would be made up entirely of airplane divers and bomb tossers. All things considered, let's hope they boycott the Games. But in their absence, it's hard to get worked up about the U.S. medal count versus Russia, China or any other nation. Ironically, the very fact that most countries are engaged in peaceful competition — the Olympic ideal — renders this Olympics uninteresting.
Since part of my mission in life is to make people happy, I'd like to offer my neoconservative friends a chance to have back the virtual penis-measurement via Olympic medals that they miss ever so much.

One of the planks of the neocon defense of Bush's war in Iraq is "Hey, he does so have a large coalition! Shut up about the war being 'unilateral'!"

Let's put that to the test, shall we? The following is the first installment of TFM's "Coalition Vs." Medal Count!

We will be fair and use the White House page for the Coalition roster, and we will use the official site of the Athens Olympics for the country medal count. We will use total medals, giving equal weight to gold, silver or bronze medals. Let's roll!

Through day 5
Iraq Coalition:
United States - 29
Japan - 13
Australia - 16
Ukraine - 7
Italy - 9
South Korea - 10
Netherlands - 9
Romania - 3
Turkey - 3
Hungary - 4
Poland - 4
Slovakia - 4
Georgia - 2
Bulgaria - 3
Great Britain - 6
Czech Republic - 2
Portugal - 1
Spain - 1
Azerbaijan - 1
Colombia - 1
Denmark - 1
Mongolia - 1
TOTAL - 130

Everyone Else:
China - 22
Russia - 15
France - 10
Germany - 10
Greece - 3
South Africa - 2
Thailand - 3
Switzerland - 2
United Arab Emirates - 1
North Korea - 3
Cuba - 5
Belarus - 2
Zimbabwe - 2
India - 1
Indonesia - 1
Serbia - 1
Belgium - 2
Brazil - 2
Argentina - 1
Canada - 1
Croatia - 1
Slovenia - 1
TOTAL - 91
Note that I'm being more than fair, including some of the "we sent a horse or two!" countries (Mongolia?) and other countries that either have wavered or now have leadership that wouldn't have joined the coalition in the first place (S. Korea, Spain). In some cases, the countries in question sent more athletes to Athens than troops to Iraq.

Still, whaddya think, Max/neocons? You have a great reason to watch the Olympics. Heck, unlike the Cold War, you get to root against France!

I'll probably do an update in a few days.


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