Chicago, Obama Lose Olympic Bid: Mass Media Hysteria Ensues

Posted on 03. Oct, 2009 by in Uncategorized


Someone's going to have to do something about all these banners.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Yesterday, Chicago lost its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. One of four finalist cities, Chicago was cut in the first round of voting (receiving only 18 of a possible 94) by the International Olympic Committee, despite the presentations delivered by President Obama, wife Michelle and the rest of the Official Chicago 2016 Delegation Team.

Since then, the media solar system has gone batshit crazy with over analysis.

Tobin Harshaw’s “Weekend Opinionator” column at has a few of this juicy bits of insanity, like this one from Politico‘s Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at the Harvard Business School:

Could this be one more sign that the U.S. Is [sic] no longer world champion? Or that the Obama magic that so captivated people outside the U.S. has frayed at the edges internationally too? Perhaps I’m reading too much into a complex decision comparing cities. But the President isn’t a Mayor and shouldn’t have taken this risk and squandered credibility when he needs some national victories in Congress on health. He needed to look like a winner, and now he’s personally associated with losing.

Well, no actually, he’s not personally associated with losing, or at least not for anyone with a functioning brain. As hard as this may be to understand, Obama is not Chicago. But it’s easy to confuse a city for a person, you’re surely thinking. And I’m with you, it’s an easy mistake to make: humans and urban landscapes share many similarities. But in this case they’re separate. It was the city of that Chicago wasn’t selected, not the President, not his wife, not Mayor Daley or anyone else that made the trip to Copenhagen. Politics aside (of which there were surely some), at its most basic level this selection process was about finding the best home for the 2016 Olympics — Rio de Janeiro. It wasn’t an oratory competition and it wasn’t a popularity contest of world political leaders.

Then there’s this idea that losing the Olympic bid shows that Obama has a lack of international schmoozing power. John J. Miller from The Corner blog wrote:

Wow, what an embarrassment for Obama. If he can’t work his personal magic with the Olympians, why does he expect it to work with the Iranians?

Last week, I wrote that if he made the trip to Copenhagen, then Chicago’s success was probably a done deal. Others have said this as well. In the scheme of things — health-care legislation, the fate of Afghanistan — this is small potatoes, and probably a blessing for the people of Chicago. But the symbolism looms large.

Symbolism is exactly the right word. This thought process feels like English Lit class freshman year of college with all this imparted theory. I think Moby Dick being white represents the fact that Melville was racist, and possibly that he has a cocaine addiction he’s trying to kick. Sorry, don’t think that’s in there. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Obama’s goal isn’t to host the Iranian Officials in a gymnastics floor routine, is it? He’s not trying to parade them around D.C., Iranian flag draped over their shoulders, in an opening ceremony, right?

If anything, Obama’s beloved Chicago dodged a bullet by not being named host city (long-term effects, in my opinion as well as Andrew Zimablist’s, Victor Matheson’s and Michael Meyer’s are costly and far outweigh most short-term gains).

I personally don’t think Obama should have agreed to speak before the IOC in the first place. Like others, I believe there are more important things to focus on right now. I also think it was a little small-minded in scope, a tad self-serving for a transplanted Chicagoan. But placing all this emphasis on losing the bid, saying it’s going to somehow taint his presidency or impair what he’s trying to accomplish during the rest of his term, just doesn’t make sense.

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7 Responses to “Chicago, Obama Lose Olympic Bid: Mass Media Hysteria Ensues”

  1. Joe Walker

    04. Oct, 2009

    This was a debate that I was aware existed only, and thankfully, because of Dave Wiegel’s twitter feed ( Wiegel, the young and great reporter for the Washington Examiner, has had some pretty funny stuff to say while observing this bizarre, Drudge-fueled debate, e.g., “GOP would be better off arguing that Obama secretly wants the Olympics in Chicago so he can apologize for our gold medals.”

  2. Collin Orcutt

    04. Oct, 2009

    Wow, there is a goldmine of humor in here. One of my favorites is his RT of Matt Yglesias’s tweet:

    “RT @mattyglesias: Chicago eliminated in first round of voting; Obama to be impeached tomorrow.”

  3. Joe Walker

    04. Oct, 2009

    yeah, to correct the link, it’s

  4. Joe Walker

    04. Oct, 2009

    rt: @daveweigel “Newt’s framing for Olympics–America deserved them, but Obama blew it by underplanning.” Interesting. #dads9:15 AM Oct 3rd from Tweetie

  5. Joe Walker

    05. Oct, 2009

    david frum blogs about the news that chicago wasn’t picked:

    “The rejection of the president’s suit is a humiliating rebuff. It’s also another ominous warning that for all the talk of this White House’s Chicago Way toughness, in the clinch it reveals itself credulous, placating, and soft. I wonder what they are thinking about Obama in Tehran today? Actually, I don’t wonder. I can guess.”

    And the first commenter:

    fosterboondoggle // Oct 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    No doubt Tehran looks at the US and says (while rubbing their hands together in glee) “Now that that tough guy Bush is gone, we can just roll over the Great Satan! Mwah ha ha! Revolutionary Guard – prepare to invade!”

    Seriously – is this what passes for critical analysis that will bring a new intelligent conservative hegemony? I don’t see the big difference between stuff like this and Glenn O’Rushbo.

  6. Collin Orcutt

    05. Oct, 2009

    I just finished reading that post too, and I just don’t get it (link here for anyone else that wishes to read it:

    Frum wrote “The rejection of the president’s suit is a humiliating rebuff. It’s also another ominous warning that for all the talk of this White House’s Chicago Way toughness, in the clinch it reveals itself credulous, placating, and soft.”

    How does this make sense? Because Obama and wife Michele didn’t strong-arm the IOC into allowing us to host an athletic event Obama’s weak on Iran? I’d say the stakes are a little different in these two cases, and I’m pretty sure Obama didn’t decide tackle the Iran problem just days before going to speak before a governing body. I’m about as big a sports fan as you’ll find, but it’s @%#*@*# SPORTS–It’s just not the same.

    Not winning the right to build lots of over designed stadiums in Chicago is so far from having anything to do with the Tehran that people who think like Frum make my head hurt.


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