Not that we needed another example, but the recent "plight" of Team USA's uniforms for the upcoming Olympics represented yet again the epitome of American hypocrisy and absurdity.
Bad enough the Ralph Lauren design is better suited for a prep school glee club, but even worse, the get-ups were actually made in OMG! China.
Predictably, Washington lawmakers erupted in a bipartisan chorus of condemnation.
"They should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them," said a reedy Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. House Speaker John Boehner lamented tearlessly, "You'd think they know better."
Much of the tub-thumping focused on manufacturing jobs, a tempting target what with "outsourcing" and "offshoring" all the finger-pointing rage in this an election year.
"There are 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs in this country," thundered Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY, "and the Olympic committee is outsourcing the manufacturing of uniforms to China? That's not just outrageous, it's just plain dumb."
No, it's the Straw Man ignoring the Elephant in the Room.
While the U.S. Olympic Committee has responded with the promise that future Team USA uniforms will be made in the US-of-A, one wonders if our nation's Congress critters have lately bothered to check the tags on the clothes they wear, the appliances they use or the family cars they drive.
Dear members of Congress, Johnny-Come-Lately Patriots and aging piners of an Ozzie & Harriet past that never existed: It's not that America no longer makes things we do but most of the things we don't make anymore happen to be the things we use most often.
We make more cheese than anyone else. No country churns out pressed milk curds like we do, or produces more beef or corn. We've got more miles of road than anyone else, more roller-coasters.
But the Nikes you may have jogged in this morning, the iPad you might be reading this on, the coffee cup you're drinking out of? Sorry.
Nike, incidentally, supplied Team USA's competitive garments. Made in America? They won't say.
Reid suggested the athletes replace their formalwear with casual attire featuring "a symbol that says USA on it, painted by hand." If only the athletes could readily find some clothing any clothing actually made here.
We don't buy products made here because they're unavailable, or they're expensive, or both.
Would you pay more to buy American if it were available?
I'm not sure we all would, as much as we say we'd like to if we could. Does it make us any less patriotic if we don't?
For years, we raucously complained about Japanese incursions upon the American automobile industry, yet we made those Japanese products a staple of our automobile market.
We grieve the loss of local mom-and-pop stores, and for grocery chains that can't compete against big-box stores like Wal-Mart. Yet we'll shop Wal-Mart because the prices are lower, even if it means putting an American out of work.
We give no quarter to CEOs trying to cut their labor costs by outsourcing jobs, yet we blame unions for driving up those costs though only 7 percent of the private sector is unionized.
We shop at Wal-Mart, which charges less because the products they sell are made by Chinese workers, who got their jobs from Americans outsourced by the CEO trying to cut costs by using Chinese laborers, who, as the Wall Street Journal reported just this past weekend, make an average of $345 a year. Yet we say, "buy American," while balking over the higher commodity prices needed to support the salary required for living in America.
You probably didn't think about this while celebrating July Fourth with fireworks made in China. Last year, the United States imported American flags worth $3.6 million, most of them $3.3 million worth made in China, according to the Census Bureau.
Even those once ubiquitous "Support the Troops" bumper stickers, and the flag pins we think make politicians more patriotic when they wear them: Made in China.
I'm not knocking this or denying that some of this wasn't our own doing. I just wish all of us, from lawmakers to voters, would stop this "Buy American" faux outrage since most of us don't do much of that any more, largely because we can't. Patriotism and nationalism got expensive.
Seems to me, the good news is the bad news: Foreign-made imports mean lower prices but also mean fewer jobs here at home. We've successfully sold much of the world on the free-enterprise model, but they're using it to beat us at our own game.
Working our way out of that conundrum will take far more than political grandstanding or dressing ourselves up in patriotic zeal.