Paul Jacob

 America and the world face plenty of serious issues. Where to hold the 2016 Summer Olympics isn’t one of them.

I know this. You know this. Even most folks in Chicago understand.

But the president of the United States doesn’t.

Last week, President Barack Obama hopped aboard Air Force One and flewall night across the globe to be part of his home city’s sales pitch tohost the sporting event. In doing this he committed more than jet fuel.He committed his time and energy and even greater amounts of theseresources from members of his staff.


The heads of other nation-states have done much the same, pleadingthe cases for “their cities” before the International OlympicCommittee, seeking the mixed blessing of hosting the games.

My mother taught me to resist the impulse to imitate others, to dosomething solely on the basis that others were doing it. In theinterest of full disclosure, she usually mentioned cliffs, jumping, andthe lemming-like behavior of my compeers. Never once did she analogizeabout a flight to Copenhagen.

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We’re told that the whirlwind trip was no bother at all for thePrez. While Air Force One zipped over the Atlantic, he caught a fewz’s. Then, in a snap, he jetted back.

But ask yourself, would you want the CEO running your company to betaking such side trips on matters so unrelated and inconsequential toyour core business? Would you want him or her to be doing it in themidst of several major crises? While proposing major new product lines?

At least the trip created an opportunity for a photo op with themilitary commander of tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan,who happened to be speaking in London . . . warning of the direconsequences if some big decisions aren’t made soon by themulti-tasking manager of the free world.

Government can’t be all things to all people. But it keeps trying.In that tradition, Obama’s jaunt to Denmark not only suggests thatgovernment can and should do it all, but that Obama can do it allalmost single-handedly. Otherwise, how could pitching the IOC end up atthe top of any day’s agenda?

This is more than simply a matter of not prioritizing. We may be seeing the result of very deliberate and precise political prioritization.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.