"In making his pitch, the president had said that a nation shaped by the people of the world "wants a chance to inspire it once more." Never before had a U.S. president made such an in-person appeal, and Obama's critics will doubtlessly see the vote as a sign of his political shortcomings.
"I urge you to choose Chicago," Obama told members of the International Olympics Committee, many of whom he later mingled with as some snapped photos of him on their cell phones.
"And if you do — if we walk this path together — then I promise you this: The city of Chicago and the United States of America will make the world proud," the president said." Yahoonews.
$50 million dollars in costs sunk seeking the games and a great deal of private money to be made if they had the games. Those were the stakes. For that possible gain, the prestige of an already diminished president was wagered, and lost.
What we have learned from this is that the president is not his own man. His first inclination was to send his wife to appeal for the prize. That would have been wise.
Now we know that the Chicago money that drove his campaign is still very much in the driver's seat.
That is bad news. pl
I didn’t know he was such a gambler, I agree – this is bad. My girlfriend and I were talking about this the other night, she’s an Obama supporter, while I’m not (unlike Bush – I do have respect for him). She was pretty much against him doing this, “beneath the dignity of the office”. Too bad.
“an already diminished president” – “that the president is not his own man” – “Now we know that the Chicago money that drove his campaign”
tad hyperbolic, there, don’t you think?
It was a foolish political move to make such an appeal. If you are right about his Chicago “handlers” I am saddened, but not surprised.
Is our President being set up? Imprudent, if not rather tacky, for him to go lobbying personally for Chicago. Bad advice no doubt from the ballerina at his elbow.
As for those Chicago types lurking behind our President, one might single out as “of interest” one Penny Pritzker.
It is possible to Google around for information on the Pritzker family and its alleged relationship to organized crime. Meanwhile here is a Wiki:
There is considerable information on the Pritzker family in the very controversial book entitled “Supermob” by Gus Russo. http://www.amazon.com/Supermob-Korshak-Criminal-Associates-Americas/
The first thoughts that come to mind are the cliches: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained;” ” How can anybody knock a guy for trying to bring jobs to America?”
But an analytical reason from the NYT
“Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.” ”
Remember how many people are on the no-fly list for trivial reasons such as Cat Stevens.
I’m sore afraid you’re correct. He seems to lead with his chin in the ring with his GOPher haters.
All applicants had their head of state turn up. This is an example of a situation where having a non-executive head of state is an advantage. Sending along your king, queen, emperor, whatever does not involve expending political capital or receiving derision back home for a failed bid.
BTW if he hadn’t turned up the usual suspects would be condemning him for his lack of patriotism. And don’t feel bad about it, it probably will keep Chicago afloat financially for few more decades. Ask most Londoners how happy they are to be paying the bill.
The view from Copenhagen:
Getting the Olympics is the prize of another president – Lula da Silva.
Obama flew in here, made a speech, met the queen and PM, and was out again in 4 hours 22 minutes. Not here to work for change, but to play two spins at the wheel at the casino of the Olympian elite.
Meanwhile Prresidente Lula was working the crowd for two days, like the fighter he is, a working class president like the US never had. He fought four campaigns before getting elected, in a country of massive inequality.
The Americans showed up with the secret suits inspecting the Christiansborg palace on Tuesday, getting security up to American standards.
The Brazilians flew their flag from the smartest hotel in town for a week here.
It looks like the US is overstretched. and the Brazilians invested in reaching their objective.
Paul Hartvigson, Copenhagen, Denmark
PS. Today the police of this fine democracy was busy dislodging protesters from church towers etc. where they flew banners like “Right city, wrong date”. Cause a lot of would like to see Obama here. Not to peddle Chicago to the Lords of the Ringes, but to do something useful at he World Climate Summit in Copenhagen in december.
Professional sports owners are professional leeches. Examples like Los Angeles make that clear. For years, football owners have ignored one America’s most lucrative markets, simply because the public won’t shell out big bucks to host them.
Sad that Obama would stoop to begging for such leeches.
Before the election, I seem to recall reading on this very blog a rejection of Obama as “The One.” Obama was a blank page on which people etched their own personal dreams – much to the disgruntlement (is that a word?) of Col. Lang. Then Obama got elected, reality set in, and his popularity came down from the stratosphere and settled into the 50-55 percent range.
Now Col. Lang has declared him to be “diminished.”
For my money, he can hop all over the globe trying to bring events, jobs and nascent industry to the U.S.
With 10 percent unemployment in our land, I can’t think of anything better a president should be doing.
The “Cult of Personality” can only go so far…
WEll personally I am relieved. As a person with some background in Emergency Planning note that I mark the real start of the impact of terrorist threat as the Munich Olympics in 1972. An argument can be made that the Atlanta Olympics in 1984 and other large scale domestic events have driven some of the policy approaches to domestic terrorism preparedness. What is completely unknow to the general public is that until the Utah Winter Olympics the security and federal efforts to provide services at each Olympics or similiar events in US were typically unfunded and taken out of the hid of Executive Branch organizations. Last I heard we (US) face long term deficits and the price for safeguarding an Olympics is now probably over $2B so thankfully that will not become a drain on the federal fisc. Interesting that the President did not focus on the costs to the taxpayer and continues to act as if it is his money, the Treasury, and the FEDS. While taxes may well be the price we pay for civilized society, the power to tax is also the power to destroy. Glad Brazil has the worry and effort and cost. Oh and did you catch the fact that Brazil may want nuclear weapons capability.
This is not about my personal opinion of him. It is about how much leverage he has in world affairs and in Congress. pl
Set-up big time; sad to see, meanwhile Blair is
Obama is being taken for a ride.
Oh, good grief! Much ado about very little. The man stepped up for America, tried and failed. Would you have him not make the effort? Why? As a calculated political consideration?
Would that we had more of his “at least I tried” attitude in our body politic.
Some might be blowing this one a bit out-of-proportion – nothing new in that. It was his home city & he used the trip to call McChrystal in for a talk.
As to prestige, there is a diehard core that interprets everything about the President negatively. Mindless partisanship is what is being diminished, one hopes.
Paul in NC
“Would you have him not make the effort?” YES
“As a calculated political consideration?” YES. pl
Interesting take. People don’t seem to get Obama. His point is to step down, just slightly, from the imperial presidency and embrace the world with respect and some semblance of humility.
Its OK to openly seek an honor from our friends and yes, occasionally they say “no”, so what? A little arrogant for us to think that the President always gets what he wants.
This is NOT the same as showing up at a diplomatic meeting without sufficient staff work so that a claim of progress can plausibly be made, or a substantive disagreement among our allies on matters of national interest. They like Rio better than Chicago, so what? So do I (although the visitors best not wander too far from the venues unprotected)
If anything, a negative response to the trivia which is the Olympics could lead to a favorable response on something else. Had he not made the trip, many would say that Chicago lost the bid because the President of the Untied States was too high and mighty to take a day out of his schedule for his hometown.
Much ado about nothing in MHO.
I hadn’t thought of the airport hassle for the foreigners. I’m sure that played a large part. It would for me if I was a Pakistani.
The Atlanta Olympics were in 1996, I think. Richard Jewel, person of interest, seems more recent than 1984.
Personally, I’m glad Rio got the job. Let them put up with the headache and enjoy the prestige for South America. Oh, and displace the natives to build the venue.
The Cantab Realist — Professor Stephen Walt — believes President Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen was a mistake but not a grave one. Worded differently, “Who Told Obama to Go to Copenhagen?”
Congratulations to Rio. (But I am not sure hosting the Olympics is all that it is cooked up to be.)
Jackie you are absolutely correct. LA was summer 1984 and Atlanta was summer 1996! Senator Sam Nunn panicked over the incompetence in the Executive Branch and result was the Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, Title XIV of the 1997 DOD Approps Act.
By the way VANCOUVER coming up for winter Olympics and huge stress being placed on US security by that Canadian event. Again huge outlays by the feds.
Even Spain deployed their Monarch and Prime Minister to try to land the Olympics. So our chief of State did the same. He championed a U.S. City.
If he had not gone, then he would be criticized for that as well. Yes, the election was 10 months ago and the recession continues, and there is Obama fatigue, and the professor is inexperienced.
Sad to hear and see all those anti-Americans reveling in the news. Not the foreign anti-Americans, rather the partisan hacks who despise their own country.
Chalk this up to the logical result of American exceptionalism and the contempt with which the world views the U.S. after the disasters of the previous unitary executive. After the preceding 8 years of arrogance, do we really think they (the rest of the world) would fall all over themselves to rush to the windy city. Seriously Doubt it.
Which perhaps, is the point, is he so inexperienced and insulated that he actually thought Chicago had a chance?
A look at scholarly articles on the web shows that most Olympics have had a net positive economic impact for their hosts.
And only if we take our President to be a Sovereign who is diminished when it is seen that His Will is not Done, is it wrong for the President to try to win a competition for the US of A.
Please, let’s get away from such imperial or god-like notions of the Presidency.
I confess to being touched by the republican earnestness with which so many of you reject the idea of a “royal” presidency.
I suppose that Lincoln would have gone to Copenhagen. pl
It’s AMERICA’S loss; not Obama’s. Thus, the jubilation on the part of so many of the President’s conservative critics is unseemly and disturbing. Good for him for trying.
I’d like to know who else might have been in Copenhagen at this time; might there be more going on?
“”I hold the value of life is to improve one’s condition. Whatever is calculated to advance the condition of the honest, struggling laboring man…I am for that thing.”
If going to Copenhagen would do that – I suppose so, he would have gone 🙂
I respectfully, diametrically disagree.
Paul in NC
Thanks. Is that where W.M.D. (Weapons of Mass Destruction) comes from? Sam Nunn provided the attack Iraq rational, sorry, tongue in cheek.
Your second comment about Vancouver is why I’m glad Rio got the Olympics. Let them put up with the security. Trying to secure this country is ridiculous. I’d rather take my chances with the “terrorist” (whoever they may be) than put up with this B.S.
Paul in NC
Well, friend, that’s what this is all about. p
Dunno’ if Lincoln would have gone to Copenhagen but here’s hoping he would have attended the opening ceremonies in Rio.
The first thing he would notice is that Rio de J and Brazil appear much further along the path of reaching a post racial society than Chicago and the USA.
Then, one would think, Lincoln would want to inquire as to how the Brazilians ended the institution of slavery and at what cost.
And finally Lincoln, perhaps, would wonder if Brazil, like the US, has Jacobins (neoconservatives) who rely on the legacy of a civil war to legitimate and promote a clash of civilizations pitting the US against the Muslim world, all in the name of spreading freedom and enlightening mankind, of course.
(not anti-Lincoln, tend to take the Foote approach in that Lincoln was a brilliant nationalist; as for the Jacobins then…well…read Kagan/Ledeen now.)
I heard that you have to fight women off in Brazil.
Brazil made the quite reasonable argument that South America has never hosted the Olympics yet. And Brazil is not at all a third-rate backwater. If there’s a snub here at all, it’s directed more at the Northern Hemisphere in general than the U.S. in particular. Further, given the many scandals that have surrounded the IOC gang over the years, it’s hard to see them as an arbiter of “prestige”.
There’s a lot that Obama can legitmately be criticized for, but this is a complete non-issue.
I do agree that the President is diminished, but I don’t see that as a preventable flaw. He’s essentially come down to mortal size.
The one serious problem that Obama has is that he is, essentially, a scientist. By that, I mean that he wants to try to examine every possible viewpoint before deciding which one to adopt. This isn’t what a politician naturally does. It also makes it harder to govern a country where there are few people like you. He’s going to have to stop doing that. Not everyone is deserving of intellectual respect.
I heard a little sound-bite on the radio on my way home from work this evening from President Obama, “You can play a good game, and still lose.” Seems rational to me.
Chicago’s chance at hosting the Games was probably a long shot. Given that the Committee is trying to spread things around a bit to credible contenders in regions that have not hosted the Games, it would seem quite politic for them to have settled on Rio de Janeiro.
I give a different read to Obama’s motivation for this effort (beyond the “Hey, it’s my home town” line, that is). I think that it is quite conceivable that this was part of a conscious campaign – recall in this context if you will, his speech to the Muslim/Arab world, his address to the Iranian nation, and his recent appearance at the UN wherein he made the case that the USA was no longer going to “Cowboy” it, and was instead (GASP!) soliciting co-operation – with all of these actions working toward the end of a rehabilitation of our nation’s image in the world. I mean, seriously, could you conceive, in your wildest imaginings, The Dick or The Decider delivering ANY of these speeches? You know, those guys who brought you the latter day Crusade, the scornful rebuff of the Iranian approaches in the wake of 9/11, and the immortal “Yer either fer us or agin’ us” doctrine? Folks, repairing the damage that bunch wrought isn’t going to be quickly accomplished; it’s going to take time and persistence. So, for the President to show up, visibly LOSE out on achieving some supposed American aim, and then to have the man NOT throw a hissy fit, but instead to have him graciously accept the outcome? Well, to borrow a somewhat overused phrase, one hopes that this may communicate something of a “Change You Can Believe In” to the world at large. A truly strong nation finds humility to be a more fitting state (walking softly, but carrying a big stick…). Leading by example, making oneself worthy of emulation; these are goals to which we should aspire. The USA is still a Big Dog (and quite capable of continuing to soil the carpet, unfortunately), but really, doesn’t “Primum Inter Pares” have a nice ring to it? Ahh, makes for a welcome change. If we hope to be capable of overmastering the self-destructive impulses that are blindly frog-marching us towards Empire and all of its attendant sorrows, this is where we must look for succor.
I thought Oprah had more pull, guess she’s not big in Copenhagen.
As for airport security, it could get real ugly after the terrorists took a page from the drug mules and hid the explosives in a cavity only a proctologist would search.
Arun! Would be interested in some of your articles! Send off line to firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking as someone who lives in Vancouver, Chicago just dodged a bullet. Our city is suddenly up to its eyeballs in debt. Cuts to city services and tax hikes have begun even now, before the 2010 Games have taken place.
oh my god!
presidents are politicians?
someone call the police!!
“the prestige of an already diminished president was wagered, and lost”
Yes indeed this is precisely the issue, IMO.
Was our President set up is my question. Set up by the ballerina at his elbow and others? And why? For example, is a weaker President more under the thumb of the pro-Israel Lobby?
How did this get past the NSC and State Department?
18 of 94 votes? The White House can’t count votes, or assess possibilities, or consider consequences?
Republicans should not be gleeful…all citizens of this Republic are in the same boat floating or sinking in international waters. US prestige has taken a hit.
The President needs to take a look at those advising him in the White House and make some necessary deletions. The political issue is NOT reelection in 2012…the issue is US national security and our international standing. Supposedly there were “adults” around to keep an eye on things…where are they?
The is not US exceptionalism or narcisism IMO. There is something else behind this and it is design not stupidity…
Here is some analysis from POLITICO:
Chicago was knocked out in the first-round of balloting – winning just 18 of 94 votes — making Obama’s trip to Copenhagen seem not just unsuccessful but entirely ineffective.
A few Democrats were glum, some conservatives were downright gleeful and the White House scrambled to explain that Obama had no regrets about making the trip – despite the fact that it exposed the limits to the power of his high-wattage international popularity.
“I have no doubt that it was the strongest bid possible, and I’m proud that I was able to make that case in person,” Obama said after returning to the White House from Copenhagen.
But even before Air Force One made it back to Andrews, political finger-pointing broke out. White House officials insisted that Obama decided to go only after very aggressive lobbying from Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, who offered assurances that the city’s bid was within striking distance of winning.
Many political pros said they wouldn’t even consider letting Obama put his prestige, popularity and time on the line to go to Copenhagen unless he thought Chicago was a lock, or a near-lock. Some even speculated that Obama must have had some inside information about the strength of Chicago’s bid that prompted him to go – something the White House denied.
But at least one Olympics expert said that if the White House aides truly believed Daley’s assurances, they were simply naïve.
“Obama and his advisers have proven to be less smart post-campaign than in the campaign,” said John Hoberman, a University of Texas professor who studies the International Olympic Committee. “The specter of a smart politician like Obama walking into this is not pretty. The question is whether he took the trouble to consult any sort of expert about what he was getting into…..Really smart people can get swept up in a really ignorant way when it comes to dealing with the Olympic movement. It appears this is what has happened again.”
“This is not a huge hit, but I didn’t think it was worth the risk,” Hoberman said. “At the end of the day, it appears that these crafty Chicago politicians did get themselves in way over their heads.”
Obama also faced questions of whether this defeat would tarnish his reputation abroad at a moment when he’s struggling with a variety of international issues, and whether he let his hometown allegiance get in the way of cool-headed decision-making as to whether he should have invested the power of his office behind the Chicago bid.
Three of Obama’s top advisers – chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and senior advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett – all hail from Chicago.
Even the on-again, off-again nature of the trip contributed to sense that the White House was making it up as they went along. White House aides publicly raised the trip as a possibility, then Obama’s attendance was ruled out, then it was announced that an advance team was scouting for him to go, then the trip was back on. All in the course of a couple of weeks.
Democratic strategist Paul Begala had warned ahead of time that this might be a miscalculation on the part of Obama, already struggling to beat back a growing sense that he’s simply overbooked, what with Iran, Afghanistan, health care and unemployment all crowding for his attention.
“If he doesn’t get it, he looks bad,” Begala said on CNN earlier this week. “You know, he does have a full plate. If I was working for him, I’d say, sir, don’t go.”
a point worth considering, via vanity fair:
‘Maybe the Europeans were afraid that they’d have to shake hands with Sarah Palin at the Opening Ceremonies.’
but seriously, i don’t think this is more than a day’s worth of impact for obama. what’s going to be more negatively impacted will be the republicans who will celebrate the failure of an american president promoting his country internationally.
does anyone really think the olympics vote will impact negotiations with israel, iran, north korea?
That was my experience. pl
I was workin’ for security in a minuscule overrated country isle where they hosted the Int’l Olympic Committee back in ’05, & I’m just f***in’ grateful that this year the host city didn’t get bombed the very next day like London then when they won (more endless conspiracies & all the c***trap). I was so lookin’ forward to the Japs winnin’ the vote though. Well, probably’ll have to wait ‘nother few decades more or so to see that happenin’.
I think it was obvious that Rio would be choosen, as no city in South America has ever been choosen before and the US has been choosen several times if you count the winter Olympics also.
I saw nothing wrong in Pres Obama appear before the committee in support of his country and city. The other leaders were also present.
“I heard that you have to fight women off in Brazil.”
Best thing I ever heard (read) on this site so far, Babak.
Just to underscore your point: NBC Chicago reported on Obama’s role recently, noting, “In a surprise appearance at an Olympic-bid rally in [Washington] park last year, only days after clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama outlined a dream scenario for him and his Chicago allies.
Then-Senator Obama told the bouyant hometown crowd that `In 2016, I’ll be wrapping up my second term as president, so I can’t think of a better way than to be marching into Washington Park alongside Mayor Daley, alongside Rahm Emmanuel, alongside Dick Durbin, alongside Valerie Jarrett, as president of the United States and announcing to the world, Let the games begin!'”
Soon after inauguration, Jarrett got an ethics waiver, allowing her to lead the White House lobbying for the Olympic Chicago bid. David Axelrod was the recipient of the major PR contract from the $43 million Chicago Olympic Bid Committee. All the Chicago real estate backers of Obama’s campaign, including campaign finance co-chair Penny Pritzker, stood to make out like bandits if Chicago got the bid. You can fill in the blanks…
seems like the TSA had something to do with losing the bid. http://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/chicagos-loss-is-passport-control-to-blame/
This is the best site on all info on the Chicago bid. http://www.chicago2016.com/2016/
As for losing Plan A (Olympics) for economic recovery, Chicago has no Plan B.
In my opinion Chicago has lucked out and Obama did no injury to his rep or cred and may have enhanced them.
This is a big let down, albeit on relatively minor event.
My sense, Obama still hasn’t realized the magnitude of damage to US image Bush has done. It will take more than few speeches to fix it. It’s the whole vibe that need to be redo.
The voting defeat is a big knock out. Not even close or let alone going to final round. My sense, most voting members of IOC have fairly bad experience with US port of entry, the finger printing, the questioning, the creditcard/hotel/ticket tracking, all in all combined with GWOT/middle east war just creep the shit out of tourists, specially emergind countries. And they are the one who has money and traveling. Increasingly event like Olympic will be visited by more than western tourists.
Overall, gotta fix this. The recurring pattern of US being isolated/avoided by the world is subtle but increasing. I’ve heard story over and over again. Trade shows (eg. Comdex), conferences (science, trades), G20 meeting or IOC voting are an indication. These events are important for trades, technology, arts, sports, etc.
The world is going to pass us by if nothing changes.
So, President p–k trashed the office of President to pay off his real bosses – Mayor Daley and freres.
What s surprise…
I’m shocked, shocked….
that this empty suit narcissist would demean the Presidency….of a country he doesn’t even like.
I have a hard time thinking that Obama himself is overly concerned with Chicago politics ruling his future, but his advisors
are another matter. They must have been looking to their wown futures in this.
I imagine the pressure on them to get Obama to do something must have been about, well, all that could be brought to bear.
He needs to watch his handlers closely for such
after this. They should have scouted the terrain and known the situation between the USIOC and the IOC. The efforts being
put in by other leaders, who were spending weeks there, automatically made his dash in and dash out look foolish. Babak is also
They should have known, and they should have acted in Obama’s best interest, not their own. But Mr Axelrod was on the tube saying Chicago was a leading contender right up to the time it was eliminated. Not good.
Again, Obama is only diminished in the eyes of those who think that the President must meet with success in everything he does, or else he should not attempt it. Or perhaps former Kremlinologists also.
And I thought the US, not just Atlanta benefitted from the Atlanta politics. It all you who think only of Chicago pols. who are looking at the narrow picture.
BTW, Tony Blair did the pitch for London 2012. Seems to be a custom.
We can put it yet another way. The people who think Obama is diminished by trying but failing in getting the Olympics to the US are probably not going to vote for his reelection anyway.
I find graywolf’s comments disgusting. This country had to put up with Pres Bush for 8 years and we did not resort to this kind of garbage. I always knew he was my president even through I did not vote for him. If graywolf doesn’t like our president or the country, he can always leave.
My last post on Olympic shenanigans.
— The big press doesn’t even explain who, what how the voting was done. I have to find it via the blog and wiki. So here we go.
A look at the voting stat.
List of current member of IOC. (I told ya it’s european thing.)
Seems as though White House advisor Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago slum lord and political operator, was deep into the Olympics deal and appears to have had a financial interest in same.
The ballerina at the President’s elbow was not aware of all this?….
“Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama’s presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems…”
I find graywolf’s comments disgusting.
Just a bit of unsolicited advice from an Internet dinosaur…
Graywolf is a troll, and not a very good one, either. The proper response to trolls is to ignore them. To grant them even your disgust is much less than they deserve.
Our host has banned such trolls in the past, and will eventually do so again. Until then, just laugh at Graywolf’s lame attempts at trolling, and leave it at that.
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I am not sure if this was trolling or actually a weak attempt at expressing the same line of thought Harper does only with limited and simplistic imagery.
I understand your response, but you are in fact only mirroring back his own action. Graywolf singles out specific Chicago circles and you in turn single out Graywolf as not belonging. Why not simply ignore him? My friend once warned me that I seem to have troubles to differentiate between–hmm? what to use–limited mental (verbal) abilities and wickedness. Had he given me this little piece of information slightly earlier, it might have helped me a lot, in the special case. Meanness occasionally results from fears.
Now this Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama diminishes both the Prize and the Presidency. It is not for the Nobel Committee to pat the President on the head, saying, “Good boy, good boy”.
Consider also that the nominations for the Peace Prize (as per the Associated Press) are closed on February 1 and that Obama was inaugurated on January 20. What on earth for was he nominated in the first place (even if someone argues that his actions since are what counts)?