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Olympic Bid a No-Win Situation for Obama

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Copenhagen to support the bid of their home town Chicago to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Their efforts mirrored those of the President of Brazil to support the winning bid of Rio de Janeiro. In the end, Chicago’s proposal failed to gain the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In response to Chicago’s unsuccessful proposal President Obama remarked, “One of the things I think is most valuable about sports is that you can play a great game and still not win.”

Obama Addresses IOC

The effort to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago unfortunately placed the president in a no-win situation. As a former Senator from Illinois whose home town is Chicago, the President had to weigh in on the campaign for the games. The potential for Chicago’s bid to fail was always there. If he failed to participate and Chicago’s bid failed, the President would be criticized for not making an effort, particularly in light of the participation of the Presidents and Prime Ministers of the other finalists. This reality has however been lost on the right-wing corporate media. Leading up to his visit, media pundits complained that he was trying to take on too much, that there were more important things for him to focus on at home. Jon Stewart coverd this on the Daily Show Thursday Night.

With headlines like “Olympic ‘nopes’ beat out hope in Chicago” on, and “Olympics loss weighs on Obama’s agenda” and “Analysis: Chicago loss is blow to Obama” on you would think that President Obama was solely responsible for the Chicago proposal and its failure. The “Analysis” headline kicked off an article by Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven and Julie Pace who pounced on the loss of the bid as an example of the failure of “Obama’s fabled charm and powers of persuasion.” They wrote “President Barack Obama’s high profile failure to win the games for Chicago could feed the negative narratives already nipping at his heels -- that he is a better talker than deal closer, more celebrity than statesman. And this could hamper his efforts on weightier issues like health care, climate change, war.”


WHAT?! When did Chicago’s bid for the Olympics in 2016 become a matter of State diplomacy? On what planet do these two live? While it is true that the President and First Lady were avid supporters of the Chicago bid, they are hardly responsible for the proposal or its failure to succeed.

They continued; “He is trying to do too much at once. He’s too casual with the use of his own time.” They went on to speculate that while “the votes of the IOC members are notoriously hard to count ahead of time, so are those in the U.S. Capitol. Will Obama do as poorly predicting how health care votes are leaning in Congress and make similarly ill-fated strategic decisions?”

It is one hell of a leap to compare Obama’s participation in Chicago’s Olympic bid to the efforts regarding health insurance reform. Such a leap of “logic” is actually absurd. The only saving grace of this AP story was in the closing of the article, which got lost in its early framing. “Keep in mind: If Obama had not gone to Denmark and Chicago lost, he no doubt would have been blamed for not making an effort.”

With slanted analysis such as was presented by these Associated Press writers, who needs Newt Gingrich’s Twitter tweet “Somehow charm and oratory don’t seem to work in foreign affairs but historians have warned that foreign policy is different than campaigning.”

So much for that so called liberal media bias.

This article is cross-posted at