The 2012 London Olympics are just around the corner, but it appears pre-games jitters have set in. The most explosive controversy in this country was the discovery that the Ralph Lauren-designed official U.S. Olympic uniforms were manufactured in China. Democrats and Republicans who can't agree on the color of the sky have discovered unity in their outrage. House speaker John Boehner said the Olympic Committee "should have known better," and Senate majority leader Harry Reid sputtered that they should throw the uniforms in a big pile, burn them, and start over again. The impracticality of that notion is illustrated by the fact that polyester doesn't burn well, and it might be considered a tribute toward the country that is holding our national note to let them continue making our clothing.
I think the Olympic team should dress like the rest of America, and when I looked last night, my shoes and Dillard's brand slacks were made in China, my underthings were made in Costa Rica, and my groovy Cremieux shirt was made in Sri Lanka. I don't know what's more offensive — that the U.S. team uniforms were manufactured overseas or that they allow the Ralph Lauren "Polo" logo to be plastered all over the clothes like a NASCAR driver. I'm no style maven, but isn't the Polo brand a little passé? I'd be embarrassed to wear an oversized symbol of corporate branding on my coat. To make it worse, the man-on-a-horse logo is on the jacket's left side, so the athletes will be pledging their allegiances to Ralph Lauren.
Over at Fox News, the main complaint was about the beret. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy wondered aloud why they couldn't wear cowboy hats and dimwit "contributor" Kimberly Guilfoyle complained that the berets looked "too Frenchy." Fox News' outrage was calmed when it was pointed out that certain elite U.S. military forces also wear the beret. The general agitation was sufficient for six Democratic senators, including Schumer and Lautenberg, to propose the "Team USA Made in America Act of 2012," as if they sold Olympic uniforms off-the-rack at Macy's. Ralph Lauren has since promised that the outfits will all be U.S.-made by the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but first he has to build some plants in the U.S. that make clothes.
London, meanwhile, resembles an armed camp, with missile batteries on rooftops and gunboats on the Thames. There are currently more air defenses in London than during the Blitz, and the Brits are such sticklers for curfews and such that some poor civic lackey did the unthinkable: Last Saturday, Bruce Springsteen was giving a free concert in Hyde Park, which is surrounded by foreign embassies and the tony homes of London's mega-wealthy. He had already played for three hours, but when he returned for an encore, he said to the crowd of 65,000, "I've gotta tell you ... I've been trying to do this for 50 years," and he called Paul McCartney onstage to join him. Springsteen's face reportedly lit up like a child's as they burned their way through "I Saw Her Standing There" and then began to play "Twist & Shout." The problem was that the concert's organizer, Hard Rock Calling, promised the event would end at 10:15 p.m, so at 10:40 p.m., an overzealous city official cut off the power mid-song, leaving the rock icons to shrug and walk off the stage. Angriest was guitarist "Little" Steven Van Zandt, who tweeted, "When did England become a police state?" British journalist Richard James wrote, "Only in Britain could a local council pull the plug on the greatest artists of the last 50 years, giving it their all."
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was unavailable for comment because he was busy preparing for his two major London fund-raisers on the eve of the games. The first presidential candidate in history to travel to a foreign country and openly solicit funds during an American election campaign, Romney will host a reception at $2,500 per person for the peasants and another "private dinner" with Mitt costing from $25,000 to $75,000 per plate. At those prices, they'd better be serving hummingbirds' eyelashes and fillet of Komodo dragon. As an added benefit, you get to rub tuxedoed elbows with the co-hosts: the heads of Barclays Bank, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, and Wells Fargo Securities. Romney, aside from money-grubbing in socialist Britain, will be attending the Olympics to watch his wife's "therapy horse," Rafalca, compete in the dressage, sometimes known as "horse ballet." It should be a unique sight, watching a presidential contender suspend his campaign and fly to another country to root for his horse. I'm certain that Mitt believes the entire country will be pulling for the Romney horse to "bring home the gold." I only hope they treat the horse better than they did the family dog.
The other major Olympic news concerned former British football squad captain David Beckham being left off his home country's roster for being "over age." How does that make you feel? I don't think the British ever forgave him for taking away "Posh Spice," but I sure hope he decides to play for our side.
So, construction delays aside, no one does pomp like the British, and it should be quite a show, especially with all that international corporate money to spend. The Olympics also gives me a legitimate excuse for staying home and watching hundreds of hours of televised events, at least until I get so sick of that John Williams theme music that I begin to recoil at the sound of trumpets. For sure, I'll be watching the horse ballet. It will be a welcome change from a steady diet of Hard Core Pawn and Lizard Lick Towing. The Olympics are a reality TV show that is unscripted, and, berets be damned, it's an occasion for genuine national pride — depending on how Fox News decides to spin it.
Randy Haspel writes the "Born-Again Hippies" blog, where a version of this column first appeared.