NEW YORK — One thing you never hear in an American household is, “Honey, hurry in here, the luge is about to start.” Luge is a “sport” where two men push a sled and then just let gravity take over.
I have long been an advocate of postponing the Winter Olympics eight years just to see if anyone noticed. Let’s face it — some sports are just too white. Take curling. Curling is not a sport; it is a drinking game. The winners should get free appetizers and drinks, not medals.
It is not that I want to see the U.S. in a position where we can lose to Iceland. It’s just that Winter Olympic “sports” seem so unnecessary. No doubt there are some good athletes, but the whole spectacle reminds me of what Winston Churchill said when he had to watch trained circus dogs walk on their hind legs: “It’s not that they don’t do it well, it is that they do it at all.”
What I find interesting about these Winter Olympics is seeing how the iron-fisted Russian president has handled everything. First, Putin said he would enforce his strict "no gay" ban. Then he spent $51 billion (the most ever) to build the venue. I speculate that almost $2 billion made its way through the cronyism and government bureaucracy and into the facilities, which is a higher percentage than Solyndra got, but not enough for the hotels to be decently designed and attractive. The lesson here is that when you ban gays, you cannot expect fabulous interior design.
Even the Russian warm-up suits look like a gaudy 1980s disco design.
Considering that there were no gays in Russia, the opening ceremony music and ice dancing went well. One small glitch happened when one of the Olympic rings did not open. The over-and-under is that within 30 days the person responsible for the glitch will be found with 45 bullet holes to his head or, as they call it in Putin’s Russia, "death by natural causes."
The opening ceremony producers were so scared to let Putin know of the foul-up that they spliced together rehearsal footage showing the five Olympic rings functioning properly. It was the same footage shown on Russian TV. The media relationship there is similar to Obama's relationship with NBC News in the U.S.
So far, the death toll has been well within the margin of error for a Russian-run Olympics. By mid-games everything was running well. Even France stopped instinctively surrendering when they heard the starter's gun.
It is good to see Putin wanting to reintroduce his country to the community of nations. With his testosterone and his nukes, it is best we all get along with each other. An isolated and angry Russia would not be good for the rest of the world.
Back at home, Obama has started to channel his inner Putin with the way he has gone after his detractors. His IRS and Attorney General’s office have gone after "enemies of the statist" big time. It’s a sad day when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden feels safer in Putin’s Russia than in the United States.
As we once had with the Tea Party, Russia said it would allow citizens to hold protests in Sochi. Protestors would be allowed to voice their opposition views in designated protest zones, also known as Siberian gulags.
One thing is clear. The old Soviet Union is working its way toward American style, free-market democracy while we are running away from it.
Soon the games will finally end. What will endure is what we learned about the evolving Russia. Most Americans' understanding of world affairs is limited to eating at the International House of Pancakes. Unless we invade a country, we don’t bother to learn anything about it. Even then, we only learn about the country after we have occupied it.
When Putin’s other girlfriend douses the Olympic torch to end the games, there will be a welcome sigh of relief. Putin, a man who enjoys releasing pictures of himself shirtless, will be proud and smug in his assurance that, under his anti-gay policies, nothing will be allowed to be flaming too long in his Russia.
Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator, can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com or visit www.RonaldHart.com.