Why It's Good for Obama the Olympic Committee Didn't Pick Chicago

12/02/2009 04:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I believe in Barack Obama. I believe he's an exceptionally talented leader. I believe that he has everything he needs in order to be a profoundly important American President. Which means, my biggest hope right now is that he really, truly, and passionately wanted Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. I hope he wanted it from the top of his head down to his toes. Because I think it's not a bad thing for anyone who wins the American Presidency by a large margin to experience a profound, personal, political loss on the world stage early on in their tenure.

It benefits a President to realize he can lose. It benefits a President to realize the stakes are real and failure - real, abject failure - is an option decidedly in play. And it's not a bad idea for a President to taste defeat in the form of a sporting event, than in leading a war against a foreign nation, governing his country, or (I say selfishly) leading his party.

I watched Obama's speech to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Again, I'm a long-time supporter of his, and plan to be for a long-time to come. But I question how he talked more about himself than the city he was intending to support. I question how little he discussed the actual, nuts and bolts value of a Chicago bid, in favor of relaying his own, personal feelings about his hometown, in broad terms so symbolic and flowery as to be rather empty. I think that's part of why Chicago came in fourth out of the top four contenders. And I think that's a good thing.

This weekend Fox News and others will pummel him relentlessly about his missteps. Let them. (Within reasonable bounds, of course.) Let this be a watershed public affairs moment in his presidency: his first conclusive, embarrassing defeat in office.

Then let the leader of the free world get up off the mat and get back to work on Iraq, Afghanistan, Health Care, and the economy, knowing from experience that failure is an option. And subsequently employing a renewed determination to deliver on the talents and opportunities most of the world knows he has.