Boycott Watch  
April 8, 2008
Senator Clinton Calls for President Bush to Boycott the Olympic Opening Ceremony May Hurt America
Part 2 in a series
Summary: Will Americans see through efforts to play politics with the Olympics?
    Today, Tuesday, April 8, 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton called for President Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics because of human rights violations in China, further stating she would boycott the opening ceremony if she were President. This comes on the heels of the Olympic torch being extinguished three times in France during its traditional parading throughout the world. The extinguishing stunts, being a first, brought massive attention to the Beijing Olympics boycott efforts over human rights issues in Tibet.

    There has clearly been a growing movement to boycott the Olympics, and especially the opening ceremonies which is a traditional whose-who of world leadership. Now, however, it is becoming fashionable for politicians to join this boycott bandwagon, a movement that started gaining momentum a few months ago when Britain's Prince Charles announced he would not attend the opening ceremony.

    President Bush, on the other hand, said he will be attending the opening ceremony. While President Bush has made statements objecting to human rights violations in Tibet, he does not have much of a choice but to attend, as the U.S. economy simply cannot afford a potential backlash for a snubbing of China. One trip to a toy store can confirm this, as the vast majority of toys on U.S. Shelves, 85% by some reports, are imports from China, not to mention the fact that most products on the shelves of Wal-Mart have at least some content, if not all, which is made in China. The U.S. simply can not afford to lose its main supplier of consumer goods. (See the previous Boycott Watch on the topic here.)

    First, China owns a considerable amount of U.S. debt, and while it is not in China's best interests to call in that debt, even the threat of it can have major repercussions. Then considering the current U.S. inflation caused by the rise of oil prices and the shrinking dollar, not to mention the current level of U.S. economic dependency on cheap Chinese imports to stabilize the middle class, the U.S. must fear that a snubbing may result in an economic retaliation from China, be it with tariffs or exchange rate fluctuations, as either can dramatically affect the middle class, thus further hurting the U.S. economy.

    The fact is that the U.S. economy has much at stake with the Olympics. Television broadcasting rights and official sponsorships are expensive, requiring a massive cash outlay and an even more massive television audience to ensure a positive return on investment. Additionally, strong medal winnings can result in a boost in national pride. Since happy consumers spend more, the Olympics can result in a boost to consumer confidence and thus the entire economy. On the other hand, a domestic U.S. boycott of the Olympics will only hurt the American Olympic sponsors, but not hurt anyone in China or Tibet because the investments are all paid for.

    Senator Clinton knows this, so taking the stance of boycotting the opening ceremony is a win-win for her. If President Bush were to boycott the opening ceremony and Americans followed suit in any appreciable way, Democrats can blame the resulting economic difficulties on President Bush. If the economy picks up, however, it will be harder for Democrats to win in November because consumers, in many cases, vote based on what is in their wallet. Senator Clinton has nothing to lose and everything to gain by calling on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremony. If President Bush boycotts, Senator Clinton can blame economic problems on President Bush, and if President Bush does not boycott, Senator Clinton can claim President Bush does not care about human rights. Neither Senator Clinton nor Senator Obama, on the other hand, will be President during the Beijing Olympics so the neither have any worries about economic fallout. This created a perfect win-win situation for the Democrats.

    In the mean time, China already has the investment dollars, yet the boycotters have not indicated they understand the difference between Olympics sponsorship and Olympic team sponsorship. Boycotts work, but they are not always helpful. If the goal is to help the people of Tibet, pressure on China is good but at the same time it is important to help the people of Tibet economically, as economic power buys freedom, thus investment in Tibet may be in order.

   Regardless, the U.S. economy can use a boost from consumer confidence and spending based on national pride from Olympics victories. An Americans boycott at this point will only affect American companies that are advertising to Americans in an effort to increase American business and the U.S. economy. While bringing attention to human rights violations is important to many, the fixed cost expenditures have already been made, and now American businesses need Americans to respond and boost the American economy, an action that will benefit everyone, including those in Tibet as global investments benefit people globally.

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