James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Going Dutch in Olympics may hurt, but U.S. on thinner ice elsewhere

Posted by James McPherson on February 25, 2010

First the brain freeze of Sven Kramer’s coach costs the world’s best 10,000-meter speed skater a gold medal. Then the Dutch four-man bobsled team has to withdraw, without competing, “because their driver was terrified.” It’s a bad week to be a fan of the Winter Olympics in the Netherlands. Oddly–and maybe this also is a Dutch thing–coach Gerard Kemkers’ job outlook may be brighter than that of John McCain.

On the other hand, the Dutch do have a multiple-party political system and logical libertarian policies on drugs, prostitution and same-sex marriage. They rank considerably higher than the United States in such areas as gender equitypress freedom, affordable education, prison incarceration, perceived soundness of its banks, infant mortality rates, life expectancy, preventable deaths (such as those on bobsleds, I wonder?), health care costs, and health care in general.

So today we have five times as many Olympic medals as the Netherlands, and one of the lead medical stories of the day is about a skier’s broken pinky (by the way, “pinky” apparently comes from the Dutch pinkje, for “little finger”).  And our political leaders preen and strut as the American health care system careens downhill like a German luger, taking the U.S. economy along for the ride. If you’ll pardon a mixing of metaphors, we’re going to need more than a little Dutch boy to keep our heads above water.

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