Transcript here. This part’s my favorite, combining The One’s “I contain multitudes” compulsion for self-reference with the distinct whiff of a teenager’s “What the Olympics Means to Me” homework assignment:
No one expects the Games to solve our collective challenges. But we do believe that in a world where we have too often witnessed the darker aspects of our humanity, peaceful competition between nations represents what is best about our humanity. It brings us together, if only for a few weeks, face to face. It helps us understand one another just a little better. It reminds us that no matter how or where we differ, we all seek our own measure of happiness, and fulfillment, and pride in what we do. And that is a very powerful starting point for progress.
Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night, people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of the U.S. Presidential election. Their interest wasn’t about me as an individual. Rather, it was rooted in the belief that America’s experiment in democracy still speaks to a set of universal aspirations and ideals. It sprung from the hope that in this ever-shrinking world, our diversity could be a source of strength and cause for celebration; and that with sustained work and determination, we could learn to live and prosper together during the fleeting moment we share on this Earth.
The vote’s at 12:30 although presumably he won’t be sticking around to watch, lest the games be awarded to Rio and the cameras capture the look on his face as he realizes being the Biggest Celebrity In The World isn’t enough to swing a stupid Olympics vote, let alone get China to sign on for Iran sanctions.
You’ll be pleased, at least, to know that he saved the swipes at Bush for the Q&A session this time:
Responding to a question by Syed Shahid Ali, the IOC member for Pakistan, about the “pretty harrowing experience” of many foreign visitors to the US, he said: “One of the legacies I want to see coming out of 2016 is a reminder that America, at its best, is open to the world. We are putting the full force of the White house and the State Department into making sure that not only is this a successful Games but that visitors from all around the world feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people.”…
“We’ve got everyone. This could be a meeting in Chicago, because we look like the world. Over the last several years sometimes that fundamental truth about the United States has been lost,” he said.
“One of the legacies of this Olympic Games would be the restoration of that understanding of what the United States is all about and a recognition of how we are linked to the world.”
I hadn’t realized that the “fundamental truth” about America being fabulously diverse was in question, especially when the last Republican president and the last Republican presidential nominee were both ardent supporters of legalizing illegal immigrants, but it’s good that he’s around to point these things out. Something else he could have pointed out: The guy who’s presently under arrest for plotting to bomb the New York City subway system allegedly trained in the very country represented by the IOC member who raised this issue with Obama. There is a reason that entry to the U.S. has become more “harrowing” over the past decade, and it ain’t because George Bush hates them furriners.
Minor consolation: No matter what happens with the games, something useful did come out of this trip.