When a 16-year-old girl from West Des Moines, Ia., makes Olympic history and becomes the pride of her country, it might seem almost impossible to rain on her parade.
Leave it to Fox News to achieve the impossible. On Sunday, the conservative spinsters found cause to lament the decline of American patriotism after Douglas' victory last week in which she became the first African American in history to win all-around gymnastics gold.
Speaking on the "Fox & Friends" weekend show with Alisyn Camerota, the conservative radio host David Webb criticized Douglas for wearing a pink leotard, rather than choosing attire with a more star-spangled theme. "There's a meaning behind the red, white and blue," Webb chided. "It's been lost in time. The field of stars. You know, the blood that's been shed. And that's what we need to focus on, and get that out in our country."
Webb said Douglas' attire was part of a broader sense of "soft anti-Americanism," which he feels has grown more apparent among American athletes since the previous Olympics. The radio host also pointed out that those cheering for Douglas did not break out in a rousing round of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!" chants.
Fox's Camerota, clearly playing devil's advocate, suggested to Webb that perhaps American athletes have eased up on the flag-draping because such displays have made other countries uncomfortable in years past. "Do you buy that theory?" she asked.
"No, I don't. And frankly, why should we?" Webb fired back. "Every country has the right to cheer for their team. I've been to English soccer matches. And I'm sure that the English men and women are out there cheering loudly in the pubs, and having a great time. And they should. Spain to their team, Greeks for their team, any country. But America is America, and we are a very nationalistic nation."
As Webb yearned for the more overtly patriotic sporting events of his youth, the host revealed his selective memory. In fact, the Olympic Committee has denounced overzealous displays of American patriotism almost every time the games make their way stateside, including in 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta. Even during the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City, which took place just months after 9/11, Americans were told to tone down the chest-beating. Speaking that year about a pre-Olympics tribute to those killed in the attacks, Mitt Romney -- who at that time was the president of the Olympics Organizing Committee -- conceded that the Olympics are "not our time to talk about how great America is."
While most talking heads at Fox News might prefer a mandate that forces American athletes to dress like Evel Knievel, if Webb really wants to criticize a teenage girl for wearing pink, perhaps he should look at his own political roots. In fact, it was Mamie Eisenhower who first popularized the color. She decorated the White House with so much pink in the 1950s that press corps started calling it the "Pink Palace," and when Americans first saw her pink inaugural gown in 1953, it was the beginning of a national sensation.
The young gymnast Douglas, whose ability to soar to impressive heights has earned her the nickname "the Flying Squirrel," has not kept her momentum going since last week's win. She finished last out of eight contestants during the individual uneven bars competition on Monday.
The balance-beam final, which takes place on Tuesday, will be Douglas' last event of the Olympics.