I promised myself I wouldn't write about the Olympics. But then two things happened, first Mitt Romney and then the actual Olympics. Let me start by saying I'm dedicated to my adopted home here in the UK, but I am a big time junky for American politics. I can't help it; the politics there are just more exciting. U.S. politics are like World Wrestling Entertainment and British politics are like cricket. I'm sure cricket is exciting, but to someone not born to it, it's about as exciting as watching cricket. I mean Jesse 'The Body' Ventura became Governor of a U.S. state. No matter how lively Prime Minister's question time can be; there will sadly never be the threat of a body slam.
Last week, imagine my pleasure when Mitt, the conservative opponent to Barack Obama, turned up in London to visit the Olympics. He was here to try and show he can be statesmanlike on an international stage and to ignore his wife's horse's competition in dressage (Mitt probably secretly loves the pirouetting ponies but he can't dare be seen enjoying such a rich person's sport. Although why an event where a horse dances is in the human Olympics I will never understand).
For those of you who didn't notice, Mitt is awkward with the press, and has a hard time hiding the fact he is very, very rich. Just to compare, estimated worth of David Cameron is £4 million vs. Mitt Romney's estimated starting point of £164 million. Yeah, eat that Cameron.
Mitt also ran the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, so should know a thing or two about how tricky these events can be. But as he arrived in London, pre-opening ceremony, he couldn't have missed the British press and the people's skeptism about the games. Let's be honest, we Brits are very skeptical about anything - before it happens. But once it starts, as a nation we look at our partners and slur, 'See sweetheart, Blighty ain't so bad after all.' Our hearts melt into our hands and our tears drip into our pints.
I'm sure it seemed a safe bet to join in on the Olympic slag fest, but the move was an amateur own goal. He didn't know a key thing about Britain. These are our shit-Olympics, and as such only those who live here have the right to call it such. Anyone questioning that, just look up Jo Brand and Streatham.
Thankfully the opening ceremony went off beautifully. All the people I've heard over the last seven years complaining about the event, forgot how crap they thought it would be, how much we didn't need this, and how Britain messes things up. It was a great event; it just shows what you can do with nearly £30 million and three years of rehearsals. I think the only rough show they had was a preview to three people in Croydon.
So Mitt criticized and we answered back with a big - eat that. And to top it all off, the organizers threw him an even bigger bird by highlighting the NHS. I mean, that was just cruel. Don't they realize Mitt has struggled with healthcare as an issue? After all when he was a governor he introduced a universal Health Care program - because he surely thought it would be a good selling point when he ran for President. Only now Mitt has to run against his own plan because Obama used it as a template for Obamacare. I'm sure he thought that the NHS tribute was sour medicine.
Mitt's next stop after the UK was a happy escape to the Middle East. No one ever has to watch what they say there.
It probably didn't help Mitt understand the UK any better that after the post-opening goodwill and swelling of national pride all was immediately washed away by poor Mark Cavendish's loss. It wasn't even Mark's fault, we can't be proud here for more than 24 hours in a row. That's just not part of the Brit identity.
Erich McElroy performs The Brit Identity at The Pleasance Courtyard throughout August, 4.45pm.