Tom Cotton: A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics isn't enough. We need a total boycott.

There are pragmatic arguments against Cotton’s position that can and will be made. “It’s unfair to our athletes to pull the rug out from under them.”

Or “We need to lower the temperature with China before we spiral into war.”

There’s no moral argument against his position. The CCP is a comprehensively evil regime that’s turning more sinister, not less. Normalizing them by participating in the international pageant they’re hosting is diplomatically and strategically defensible but morally bankrupt.

This Free Beacon edit of Cotton’s presser today captures the important bits but the longer 13-minute version for those who are interested is here. Watch, then read on.

Biden was asked today whether it’s true that he’s considering a diplomatic boycott of the Games, as was reported a few days ago. It is, he said, although he hasn’t made up his mind yet. A diplomatic boycott is the middle-ground option on the Games, halfway between proceeding as usual and the total boycott Cotton wants. U.S. athletes would compete but U.S. dignitaries would stay away to protest China’s human rights abuses.

My guess is that most of the public will be content with that, chiefly because they don’t want to see American athletes punished for China’s sins. But there’s a meaningful contingent in favor of a total boycott out there too:

But what would the American people think about this? A recent Chicago Council survey conducted March 19-21 reveals more public support for an Olympic boycott than you might expect. Fielded among a nationally representative sample of 1,017 Americans, Americans are split over the question of a U.S. boycott of the 2022 Beijing Games in response to China’s human rights abuses. Half of Americans (49 percent) favor an Olympic boycott, while nearly as many (46 percent) are opposed.

And while partisanship colors Americans’ view of a boycott, the survey reveals a narrower gap than on many other China-related issues. A majority of Republicans favor a boycott (53 percent in favor vs. 42 percent opposed), compared with a minority of Democrats (45 percent vs. 51 percent). Independents, meanwhile, are divided (48 percent in favor vs. 44 percent opposed).

I think they’d be even more receptive if the boycott were part of a multinational effort. Imagine the entire G7 deciding to skip the Games to protest Chinese atrocities. If the U.S. didn’t join in that coordinated protest, it’d appear even more glaring that we had no moral objection to China’s practices in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Tibet. If the UK and Canada are willing to pull their athletes to condemn concentration camps and totalitarianism, why isn’t the leader of the free world?

More Republicans will follow Cotton’s lead by slamming Biden for his protest half-measure, I assume. Some, like Mitt Romney, are satisfied with a diplomatic boycott…

…but Romney’s national future is past. GOPers like Cotton who are hoping to run for president someday will seize the opportunity to demand a total boycott to show that they’ll be tough on China, unlike the weak-kneed Democrats. Case in point:

Read John’s post from earlier this afternoon for more on the appalling case of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. When we think of Chinese abuses, we think grand scale — Tibet, the Uighurs, the most technologically sophisticated surveillance state the world has ever seen. But grand-scale abuses are an accumulation of individual ones, with Peng’s disappearance the latest example. I agree with Jonathan Last’s read on the pitiful statement that appeared yesterday purporting to be from her. The CCP doesn’t want you to believe that Peng actually wrote this. They want to make it obvious to you that she didn’t, to drive home the fact that they can disappear people and speak for them whenever they like.

It’s a hostage statement except the ChiComs didn’t even bother with the niceties of putting Peng on camera to give the statement a patina of credibility, as if she was reading her own words. They snatched her and farted this out to communicate the sense of impunity with which they operate. Everyone — everyone — knows what she’s in for, and Beijing doesn’t care. They’re glad you know. They hope you’re thinking about it when you watch your country’s athletes parade around in front of their leader at the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

Maybe that could be something the west could rally around: Produce Peng Shuai immediately or the boycott is on. Poll that proposal, see how it does.