Just a couple of weeks ago, Barack Obama reiterated his position that President Bush should boycott the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Specifically, he criticized the administration for not being “aggressive in encouraging the Chinese government to make serious concessions,” and that in the absence of progress Obama would not have attended. However, as Ad Age reports, Obama has no problem sponsoring the opening ceremonies and the Games:
It’s official. Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal’s Olympics coverage. In the first significant network-TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads.
According to NBC’s political file, the campaign had initially requested information about 500,000, $2 million and $4 million package of Olympics spots. The network also offered the candidate a $10 million package.
For what it’s worth, I actually agreed with Obama and John McCain on this point. Given China’s actions in Tibet this year and their overall record on human rights, it is a little inappropriate for Western leaders to attend the opening ceremonies. The threat of such a boycott forced Beijing to start dealing with the Dalai Lama to improve their record in Tibet, but talks thus far have produced no real results.
Obama’s decision to sponsor the Games in print and television ads after criticizing Bush’s plans for attendance belies the moral posturing Obama took on the Beijing Games. It supports the same false show by the Chinese that Obama demanded Bush reject. Sponsorship doesn’t just imply support, it explicitly demonstrates it with large amounts of money.
Maybe Obama can explain how throwing money at the Games constitutes “more aggressive” action to convince China to improve its human-rights record in a way that Bush’s attendance does not. I doubt that any of the mostly-sycophantic media following Obama on his World Tour will bother to ask him about this flip-flop, however.