Bush became the first U.S. President to travel abroad for the Games when he attended the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He ping-ponged between talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and palling around with the U.S. volleyball team. While he supported the U.S. athletes, he didn’t support China’s continued human-rights violations, and made those feelings known during a dedication ceremony at the new U.S. Embassy in Beijing. “We strongly believe societies which allow the free expression of ideas tend to be the most prosperous and the most peaceful,” he said. Now that we live in a more global economy, and politics are more partisan than ever, presidents pull out all the stops for the Olympics because they are a visible example of international cooperation — at least for two weeks.
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