Change the Subject 101: Clinton and the Olympic Boycott

By Saira Anees

Apr 7, 2008 1:36pm

A bold PR move by the Clinton campaign. Desperate to change the subject from their demoted strategist Mark Penn, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY — following in the footsteps of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — is calling for President George W. Bush to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing (though not for an overall boycott of the Olympics by athletes and the U.S. government in general.)

ABC News’ Eloise Harper reported this news just a few minutes ago, following a Clinton campaign leak to cyber-giant Matthew Drudge.

Members of the House have called for the president to personally boycott attending the games — though not for the U.S. to boycott the games.

We talked about the Olympic ceremony boycott debate last month after hearing a debate on NPR between a human rights activist and an official of the International Olympic Committee about this notion.

Human rights attorney David Kilgour, a former Canadian member of parliament, originally had supported a complete boycott because of China’s abysmal record on human rights. But now he feels that the games are bringing greater scrutiny to that record — in Tibet, Darfur, with the Falun Gong and more generally — so he’s instead calling for a boycott of the opening ceremony by government officials. Now is the time to exert some pressure, he said.

Former U.S. rower and IOC member Anita DeFrantz — who missed the 1980 Moscow games after then-President Jimmy Carter pulled out the U.S. to protest the USSR invasion of Afghanistan — argued such a boycott wouldn’t work.

What do you think the president should do?

- jpt

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