Obama's Chicago Hope

John Hanlon

10/5/2009 7:00:00 AM - John Hanlon
Since Chicago was denied a chance to host the Olympics in 2016, the media has quickly turned on the 44th President. For anyone who suspected that the honeymoon was not over, these past couple of days have shown otherwise. However, one of the most interesting and critical pieces about Obama's decision to lobby personally for the Olympics was written before the Copenhagen decision by Dana Milbank for the Washington Post who noted Obama's intense passion for the Olympic games and his lack of passion on other important issues.

Milbank wrote the following:

On many of the most pressing issues -- the public option in health reform, troop levels in Afghanistan, sanctions against Iran -- the administration has hewed to hemming and hawing.

The area in which Obama has been most forceful recently has been, of all things, his effort to win the Olympics for his home city of Chicago, which caused him to fly off Thursday evening on a quick lobbying trip to Copenhagen. The first lady announced that the Olympics campaign was a "take no prisoners" mission.  

Looking back, some people who advocated for this trip may regret the controversial decision while others may say that it was worth the effort. However, this "take no prisoners" campaign ultimately failed miserably. A CNN.com article noted that "CNN's Ali Velshi in Chicago said there was an acceptance the city might not get the Olympics but absolute shock that it would fall at the first round." Chicago's elimination was quick and embarrassing for the young president whose trip to Copenhagen created great expectations that it clearly did not live up to.

If you agree with Milbank's assessment that the president showed "spine" on the issue of the Olympics that he is missing on other issues, then the failure of his mission stands out as a major disappointment. If Obama can not get the Olympics to Chicago with his personal charm and his enthusiasm for the subject on display, how can he succeed in his other goals where he might not come off as passionate?

A Politico.com story on the Chicago pitch entitled "The Agony of Obama's Defeat" began with the line, "What was he thinking?" Many in the media have been asking themselves that question over the past few days. Now that Chicago's bid has lost, will the Obama administration's passion for the Olympics translate to other issues or will the administration still come off as "hemming and hawing" on important issues? 

With Obama facing major decisions, for example, in the War in Afghanistan, one would hope that Obama uses his passion for the Olympics to advocate as fiercely for the best decisions for our troops on the ground.