You may be thrilled by the feats of Katie Ledecky, mesmerized by the grace of the women gymnasts, startled by Rio spectators mocking U.S. soccer star Hope Solo with chants of "Zika! Zika!" (the first recorded instance, noted one wit, of a stadium rocking to the invocation of a virus). Allow me, however, to interrupt the prepackaged, heart-tugging, tape-delayed Olympic coverage to bring you the real sporting news of the year.
Donald Trump, the man who defied every political rule and prevailed to win his party's nomination, last week took on perhaps the most sacred political rule of all: Never attack a Gold Star family. Not just because it alienates a vital constituency but because it reveals a shocking absence of elementary decency and of natural empathy for the most profound of human sorrows -- parental grief.
"The best darn change-maker I ever met in my entire life." So said Bill Clinton in making the case for his wife at the Democratic National Convention. Considering that Bernie Sanders ran as the author of a political revolution and Donald Trump as the man who would "kick over the table" (to quote Newt Gingrich) in Washington, "change-maker" does not exactly make the heart race.
The main purpose of the modern political convention is to produce four days of televised propaganda. The subsidiary function, now that nominees are invariably chosen in advance, is structural: Unify the party before the final battle. In Cleveland, the Republicans achieved not unity, but only a rough facsimile.
"The most significant reinforcement of our collective defense any time since the Cold War," President Obama called it. A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but it was still an achievement: Last week's NATO summit in Warsaw ordered the deployment of troops to Eastern Europe, the alliance's most serious response yet to Russia's aggression and provocations on its western frontier.
Why did he do it? FBI director James Comey spent 14 minutes laying out an unassailable case for prosecuting Hillary Clinton for the mishandling of classified material. Then at literally the last minute, he recommended against prosecution.
Given their arrogance, pomposity and habitual absurdities, it is hard not to feel a certain satisfaction with the comeuppance that Brexit has delivered to the unaccountable European Union bureaucrats in Brussels.
"I believe in an America always moving toward the future."
-- Hillary Clinton, June 21
When in his 1964 GOP acceptance speech Barry Goldwater declared that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," a reporter sitting near journalist/historian Theodore White famously exclaimed: "My God, he's going to run as Barry Goldwater!"
The morning after, the nation awakes asking: What have we done?