First off, a big congratulations to Brazil. They are a rising nation—so good for them. That said, the Olympic rejection of Chicago in Copenhagen is deeply troubling to me. When a president acts on a last minute whim, as Obama did, there are huge international consequences.
Was President Obama trying to save Mayor Daley's re-election? I don't know. If he did have a higher motive, one rooted in broad based Olympic Americana, fine. But here's the deal: his failed five-hour whirlwind trip harmed American interests and American prestige around the world.
Obama’s ducks were never set in a row. Hence, the risk of defeat was simply far too great. It showed poor presidential judgment. Obama is playing with the prestige of the greatest country in the world, and the most powerful office in the world. This is precious capital. It must not be squandered; it must be harbored and protected carefully. It wasn’t.
It’s obvious that neither he, nor his inner circle of Chicago advisors, understood the inner workings of the International Olympic Committee, as evidenced by that lopsided vote. It was a huge mistake. Moreover, the IOC surely knew the polls showed half of Chicago was against it.
Coming back from Copenhagen empty-handed, President Obama now faces big questions like the one recently posed by my good friend Doug Kass: Does this symbolize the end of America’s financial and economic hegemony?
The conduct of international relations—both symbolically and operationally—is a delicate high wire act. It of the greatest importance in protecting both the security and reputation of the U.S.
Obama bungled this.
No, it's not the end of the world, but it is a big-time and ill-timed set-back.
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