Farewell, Beijing. Farewell, and good riddance.
I do acknowledge it was a kind of success, especially for the United States. Depending on the figures one uses that is, depending on the person asked we earned either first or second place, not taking the most gold medals but winning the most medals overall.
We had Michael Phelps, an athlete so dominant he completely marginalized the rest of the field, set an astonishing seven world records and did not fail to win the gold in any event in which he competed.
A few events were marred with atrocious officiating and in the case of the uneven bars, also nonsensical and arbitrary algorithms and frequently, we still managed to win. And as usual, and most encouragingly, many other teams from around the globe emerged from their apparent obscurity to provide us with that characteristic and timeless sense of excitement.
Even the opening ceremony was a marvel, which at $100 million U.S. dollars, it certainly ought to have been. For four hours, it captured the imagination of the world.
But our host? Disgraceful, in a word.
This was to be Chinas glorious debut, the pivotal moment at which it would symbolically join the rest of the developed world, but instead, it has just been yet another indicator of how backward the country is.
The Chinese authorities, of course, rebuffed all objections on the grounds that the Olympics must be free of politics. This is mostly disingenuous but also downright stupid; how could it be?
And, for that matter, why should it be? Should the crowd in attendance at the opening ceremony have fallen silent upon the entrance of the Iranian team or not? Should the United States and others have boycotted the Games altogether, or should we not have?
The Olympics are highly political, always have been, and always must be, from before the host is decided until the Olympic torch is extinguished, and the Chinese government handled it in a predictably political way.
Officials promised not to engage in electronic surveillance of their guests, and they did. They promised to clean up their air, and they did not. They forged official documents to circumvent important official regulations, and now they have conscripted the International Olympic Committee into covering their tracks.
Now, these are all standard fare as far as evil machinations go, but what is truly indicative of the state of China is the sad little controversy which surrounded the opening ceremony itself.
It was later revealed by Chen Qigang, the Olympics music director, that the adorable little girl who appeared to have sung the Chinese anthem was not actually the vocalist.
Yang Peiyi the true vocalist was originally to have performed it live, but a party official objected to her appearance, so Yangs wonderful voice was used and the more photogenic Lin Miaoke was used as an actor.
Now, the problem with these Milli Vanilli-inspired shenanigans is not the sheer superficiality of it, of course; for better or worse, everyone makes decisions on that basis.
The problem is their callousness, and the fact that government officials did not make the slightest attempt to either apologize or explain.
The audience will understand that its in the national interest, Chen told Beijing Radio.
Why, in light of legitimate human rights violations, is this important? The short answer is simply that it is not. After all, Yang, Lin and everyone else in the People part of the Peoples Republic of China probably had no part in it. And even if they did, it is unlikely they had a choice.
Actually, as it turnsout, the long answer is exactly the same.