Laugh if you must, but this is the one bit of spin you’ll hear today that has the virtue of actually being true.
And of course it’s also the one bit you won’t hear from anyone in the White House.
This is pretty embarrassing for the White House. (Especially letting Obama having to fail in front of his wife – ouch!) But ultimately, it’s a good thing for him. As I wrote on Monday, the Olympics are notorious for running massively over budget. The organizing committees are always rife with infighting and power games, as all manner of colorful cronies badger members to get their paws on some of those coveted Olympics dollars. Public support for the Olympics in Chicago itself was already lukewarm. Residents would have been facing seven years of disruptive construction and roadworks as their city raced to prepare itself. It’s a recipe for serious disgruntlement.
Obama would have been inextricably tied to all of this – the budget overruns, the construction hiccups, the predictable corruption. By going to Copenhagen he became the public face of the effort. Already, some of his closest supporters and friends were on the bid committee: his campaign’s National Finance Chair Penny Pritzker and a co-chair of his inaugural committee Patrick Ryan both had key roles. Senior Adviser David Axelrod’s communications firm, AKPD Media, was one of the contractors for the committee, and Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett had been involved in supporting the bid. When problems started arising in the planning of this mammoth event – and they invariably would have – Obama would be implicated, regardless of his actual involvement.
Entirely correct, and not the first time Hot Air readers have heard that argument. In fact, I wonder if one reason why the IOC torpedoed Chicago right out of the chute was because they knew, to an absolute certainty, that there’d be so many corrupt Daley machine filthbags involved in the games that a monster scandal sidetracking the Olympics was inevitable. Why invite that kind of hassle? Better to give the games to Rio, deal with a hopefully manageable amount of corruption, and enjoy the beaches (and, er, the violent drug gangs and militias). They did The One a favor whether he realizes it or not.
As for the mindblowing political stupidity involved here, Geraghty’s e-mailer makes a good point although I think he’s reading too much into it. Or rather, I hope he’s reading too much into it.
There’s actually something worrisome about this whole Chicago fiasco, and it goes back to President Obama’s inexperience. Diplomacy 101 tells us that your head of state only shows up on the high-profile stage when a deal is complete. The lesson that most politicians learn well before they gain positions of power is that diplomacy is done by diplomats, professionals who work through all the negotiations and the hardball tactics and the carrot/stick combinations. The principals in the matter gather to discuss high-level topics and to smile for the cameras as the agreement is being signed. Heads of state do not conduct diplomacy, they ratify it, and surprises are entirely unwelcome at those summits and signing events (hence Reagan’s anger in Iceland.)
Why were you and Ramesh surprised? Because you thought that President Obama at least knew this very basic lesson. Today’s announcement suggests that he does not, and it just got advertised big-time to countries who already were pretty sure we had a rookie at the helm who didn’t know how to use international power. President Obama just got upstaged by an organization against whom no retaliation is acceptable, and he wants to meet with the Iranians next month? We are in deep, deep trouble.
Perhaps, although The One could afford to get upstaged here since ultimately no one will vote against him in 2012 because of it. Not so with respect to Iran, which is why — again, I hope — he’ll be more judicious with them. The bigger humiliation, I think, comes from the fact acknowledged by Dana Milbank this morning that the Olympics bid is one of the few political projects lately on which Obama’s gone all-in. He dithers on Afghanistan, he keeps his distance from Congress on ObamaCare, he talks about “constructive beginnings” with Iran — but he sends his own wife and then gets on a plane himself to make the case for Chicago, despite the small upside of winning and embarrassing downside of losing. You sure know how to pick your battles, Barry.