Lindsey Graham's Panicky Version of Brinksmanship

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 17 2013 1:40 PM

Lindsey Graham's Panicky Version of Brinksmanship

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So cheesed off over Sochi

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

It's a slow, hot day in D.C., which is why an errant comment by Sen. Lindsey Graham is driving a substantial amount of the news cycle. Graham told reporters for the Hill that the U.S. would send "the most unequivocal signal" of its displeasure with Edward Snowden if it boycotted the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the pleasant and temperate Russian city on the Black Sea.

This news was viewed as important enough to be taken to John Boehner, who gave a very Boehnerish response: "Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?" But the question bubbled up further, to the often-useless daily briefing with Jay Carney, where the president's spokesman spent minutes knocking down the idea that the United States would skip the Olympics over Edward Snowden's weeks-long sojourn in Russia.

To which I say: Congratulations, Lindsey Graham! There's now plenty of video of top American political leaders entertaining (if only to deride it) the idea that Edward Snowden poses a threat to the United States comparable to the one posed by the USSR when it invaded Afghanistan. (Those were the circumstances under which the U.S. pulled out of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Bad timing.) We know that Snowden is a hero on Russian TV, but now, he's a hero who makes our knees quake as much as the Red Army did.

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And meanwhile, in a tweet from Jake Tapper:

On @TheLeadCNN at 4pm, Sen. @GrahamBlog says possible Olympic boycott isnt just about Russia re: Snowden - also about Russia and Syria/Iran

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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