How one views the myriad of issues surrounding Communist China centers around one word: "reform" - or to be more specific, "the notion that with advancing prosperity, the world's largest country will move toward political liberalization and democracy" (James Mann, Wall Street Journal via Boycott 2008). If you believe in "reform," then the Olympics is a wonderful chance for Communist China and the rest of the world to meet and learn from each other, and it is far more important than any bumps along the road (for an idea of what I mean, see President Bush's comments on Communist China to the Washington Post).
For those who reject this nonsense, the bumps are the road, and no one articulates that better than the aforementioned James Mann. Mann thoroughly disintegrates the "China Fantasy" (his term, and a good one at that), and reveals how Communist China's economic advancement has made the regime more repressive and less responsive to the rest of the world.
We are already seeing that in the run-up to the Olympics (Between Heaven and Earth, Epoch Times, more Epoch Times, National Review Online, and the Washington Times). Moreover, without the "China Fantasy" clouding one's visions, the rest of Communist China's real policies, interests, and ambitions come into view - whether its intimidation of exiled dissidents (Epoch Times), maneuvering to shut down dissident satellite transmissions (Epoch Times), or outdoing American policymakers on North Korea (One Free Korea). The only thing that might hold water once the rose-colored glasses fall from the face are the recent reports of attacks in occupied East Turkestan (BBC, CNN, and the Washington Times), and even that must be put up against the Communists' history of fudging the truth in that occupied nation.
In the end, the Olympics will become yet another prism through which every American's views on Communist China will pass. The deluded will enjoy the Games as a spectacle of sport; the realists will be disgusted by the propaganda.