(Providence, Rhode Island) – With the Olympics now in full swing and many people in the middle of summer vacation, politics is probably the last thing on our minds. Or is it? Here’s a look at something of an odd week in the world of politics:
“A Game of Chicken” – Unemployment is at 8.2%; foreclosures are still happening at a staggering pace; and the European debt crisis threatens to send the free world back into recession. So, what’s the number one debate topic in politics this week? Why the “Chick-fil-A” sandwich and whether it will be sold in Boston, Chicago and other places. Mayors in those cities don’t want the franchises in their communities because the restaurant owner opposes gay marriage. Chicago’s Mayor is even trying to “invent” traffic and parking issues to block Chick-fil-A, since it appears there are no actual legal grounds for doing so.
“The Art of Compromise” – Here’s how both sides can “have it their way!” (Sorry, Burger King). Let “Chick-fil-A” come in and build franchises and create jobs in fast food, construction and advertising, etc. Then if some people want to boycott the chain for its marriage stance, let the protesters vent! It’s a win-win! Both sides get something. We just don’t see old-fashioned compromise in this country anymore; and this might be a good way to bring it back. Besides, it’s hard to picket something that isn’t there.
“My Olympics Were Better than Your Olympics” – Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney created quite a stir this week when he raised concerns about inadequate security at the 2012 games in London. Of course, problems with the security company were well publicized even before Romney spoke. Still, it struck many as odd that he would raise the red flag in such a high profile way because a) he might soon be President, and such matters are usually handled more discretely, and because b) although he has already run an Olympics and would probably know bad security when he sees it, that issue is something probably best addressed behind the scenes.
“Ouch!” - The Romney security flap certainly did not display the best of diplomacy on either side of the Atlantic. British Prime Minister David Cameron bristled at Romney’s comments and then said, “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” That was an obvious slap at the far more sparsely populated Salt Lake City, Utah, where Romney ran the 2002 Olympics. Ouch! Let’s hope these two can patch things up if Romney winds up in the White House.
“He Said What?” – Friday I was on KGO Radio in San Francisco and was asked if the Romney security gaffe would affect the outcome of the election. “Good Lord, no!” I said. Look, it was an amusing story for a day; but as soon as the opening ceremonies began and the first medals were awarded, Romney’s comments faded away. These are the Olympics after all, and it’s all about the games. People are not going to care about this minor controversy when they actually vote in November. As I said, it was fun political fodder for a day!
“Who’s Winning?” – No, not the Olympics - the presidential campaign? Right now the Real Clear Politics composite poll has it Obama 46.4 percent to Romney 45.1 percent, a razor thin Obama lead of 1.3 percent. In likely Electoral College votes, it's Obama 231, Romney 191, with 270 needed to win. But, let’s just say Romney wins the toss-up state of Florida. That puts it at Obama 231, Romney 220. It’s just that close! By the way, people are already talking about a potential tie, with each candidate winning 269 Electoral Votes, which is actually possible. It has never happened before, and we’ll talk about that possibility more next week.
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