Mitt Romney and I are competing in a new Olympic event that involves proffering unvarnished criticism of the Olympics themselves. We're the Lochte and Phelps of this event -- appearing united when necessary and when it serves us both, and appearing divided when Mitt says something really stupid.
Last week, I blamed cronyism for the awarding of the sole-source security contract for the entire Olympic Games to a company that failed to deliver, requiring the British military to step in at the last minute to pick up the slack. Mr. Romney took that flame of denunciation and carried it all the way into the Olympic stadium by expressing concern about an overall lack of preparedness before the opening ceremony even got under way. To be sure, it was a bit of a jerk move -- like being invited to someone's home for dinner and complaining about the curtains.
I'm free to complain about it, though, since I wasn't invited.
Not to say that Mr. Romney wasn't right -- he was, and continues to be. Now that Mr. Romney has left London and moved on, taking his insensitivity tour to Israel and Poland, I'll grab the baton back and carry this particular Olympic Flame of Shameless Irreverence.
Like I said, it's not as if I have to worry about being a bad houseguest like Mr. Romney was when he said something totally correct yet socially inappropriate. I'm never going to get tickets to these games, and judging by the largely empty venues, it doesn't look like anyone else is, either. How on earth do you manage to host the Olympics and not fill the seats? Unless, of course, you're a society based not on real democracy but on a system of strict social classes in which the plebes pay for the events meant for the elites to enjoy -- and the elites show up only if they don't have any money-counting obligations that day.
Selling tickets to an event is such a straightforward concept that I mastered it when I was 4 years old, putting on puppet shows for my parents and their friends. I scribbled out a few "tickets" with some crayons, gave them out for a quarter each. So what kind of jiggery-pokery was involved in the Olympic ticket sales to lead chief organizer Sebastian Coe to claim that the venues were chock full when anyone without severe cataracts could tell that seats suffered from a bum deficit?
If something so straightforward can be so royally botched, it's little wonder that the average person no longer has any faith in those elected and appointed to lead. And why aren't people sufficiently outraged enough to do something about it?
Another example is the Olympic cauldron, which is located inside the Olympic stadium for the duration of the games and out of public view for all those who don't hold tickets. Had the organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, tried this, it's a good bet the locals would have barged in and dragged the thing outside themselves. As it was, organizers in Vancouver were forced to remove some of the protective fencing around it when people complained that it impeded access, despite the fact that the cauldron was located outside. Why so much complacency in London? What are they afraid of -- the teenagers running "security"?
I almost feel obliged to say something nice about the London Olympics, since I've been a misanthropic Debbie Downer about the subject for weeks now. The fireworks at the opening ceremony were spectacular. It was as if God was vomiting pyrotechnics in the general direction of London while random nonsense depicting everything from health care to homosexuality to social media happened below. British cultural content included the Queen being handled by James Bond, the most inept literary fake spy in the history of fake spies. That screw-up can't execute any mission without things blowing up left and right. The Queen would have been safer with Mr. Bean, also featured prominently, as though he personally authored the Magna Carta.