South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has made headlines once again for suggesting that the United States boycott the upcoming 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Ever since National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden fled to Moscow, the U.S. has been desperately trying to convince the Russian government to return the 30-year-old American to his home country to be put on trial. Snowden has been charged with espionage for spilling the NSA's secret phone and Internet surveillance programs. He recently requested temporary asylum in Russia, and Putin has yet to make a final decision.
Graham appears to have grown tired with the Russian government’s lack of urgency.
“I love the Olympics but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world,” Graham told NBC news on Tuesday. “I don’t know if putting the Olympics on the table is the right answer, but I do know this – what we’re doing is not working.”
Ari Melber, co-host of The Cycle, was less than impressed with Graham’s proposal. “This is what this guy does,” Melber said on Wednesday’s show. “He may say this because it plays well back home. But it’s irresponsible as a leader. It’s irresponsible as a senator.”
Fellow msnbc host Steve Kornacki has awarded Speaker of the House John Boehner with a gold medal for being the voice of reason on the question of whether to boycott the upcoming Olympics. “I love Sen. Graham. We’ve been close friends for 20 years,” Boehner told the press on Wednesday. “But I think he’s dead wrong. Listen, why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?”
Graham has already begun re-tracking his statement. "I would consider anything to change Russia's behavior," Graham said to CNN. "What I want to do is get people focused on what Russia's doing to the world."
The United States Olympic Committee also weighed in on the issue. “We strongly oppose the notion that a boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is in our country’s best interests,” said USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky. “If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work.”
The U.S. chose to boycott the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow in response to Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. In 1936, the U.S. seriously considered boycotting the Olympic Games in Hitler-led Germany, but ultimately decided to participate.