The Collective
Friday, October 2, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

In all honestly I am utterly ambivalent about the fact that Chicago won’t be hosting the 2016 summer Olympic games. I have a passing interest in the fact the Rio de Janeiro will be hosting as it says a lot about Brazilian development and it is a noteworthy first for Latin American. However, I mostly don’t care because, really, I don’t care that much about the Olympics.

What I find curious is that so many (especially on the right) are making the story one about Obama. Just because President Obama wanted the Olympics for his adopted home town of Chicago (and for the country for which he is the chief executive officer), it would appear that a lot of folks were rooting against the IOC to grant the games to Chicago. It just strikes me a rather small and petty political place to reside that every single thing has to be reduced to a partisan contest of this nature.

Along these lines we get such clever tweets as the following from RedStatesErick Erickson:

Does it say more about the IOC or Obama that the IOC gave Hitler the Olympics, but not Obama?

Not only does he make the whole issue of Chicago getting the Olympics some sort of partisan issue, but he plays the Hitler card. Really?

Other reactions cataloged here. More from Erickson specifically here.

I can understand if someone thinks that the President could be better spending his time than on a trip to Copenhagen to lobby the IOC (although, really, it strikes me as not much of a big deal). But it is rather weird, especially for conservatives, who tend to revel in the patriotism, to be so pleased that America lost just because they see it as Obama’s loss. Really: everything doesn’t have to be partisan politics. As Joe Scarborough wrote about the situation: “the fact many right-wing figures opposed the President’s mission shows just how narrow-minded partisanship makes us all.”


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12 Responses to “The Olympics (Petty Politics Edition)”

  1. Ratoe Says:

    I’m sure that you are right in your analysis about the motivations of these “conservative” commentators.

    However, I think it is the best thing that can happen to Chicago to be rejected by the IOC.

    The public finances involved for subsidizing an event that has little long-term economic advantage are immense.

    The Olympic cities of the past few years have been marred by huge debts and cost overruns.

    In an era where we want fiscal responsibility, I found it disappointing that Obama would endorse such a waste of public funds (even if those funds were primarily coming from the City of Chicago).

    Believe me, Chicago is better off without subsidizing the games. Frankly, the “sports” featured in the Olympics are horribly lame anyway.

    Give me a chance to watch the gold medal competition in ping pong or see the Cubs flail to an even worse team like the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I choose major league baseball every time.

  2. Steven L. Taylor Says:

    I concur. I am not sure, really, why they wanted it in the first place.

  3. B. Minich Says:

    I think its a prestige thing. Who wouldn’t want the Olympic games in a theoretical sense?

    I wanted Chi-town to win, and was disappointed when they lost. But Rio is a nice city, and its going to be interesting to see them put on the event (2 years after they host the World Cup to boot!).

    And I definitely miss the old patriotic right, which would have loudly decried IOC anti-Americanism. I don’t like this new anti-Obama right, which is happy to see him fail.

  4. Steven L. Taylor Says:

    I agree is it a prestige thing, it is just that since it ends up costing a city more than it makes, I do wonder if the prestige is worth it.

    And yes: Rio is going to be rather busy!

  5. Buckland Says:

    Sure, we should have been like the liberals and not make it at all partisan statements like Americans rooting against the US getting the Olympics was like Jane Fonda going to Hanoi

    The reality is that everything about this president is political. The perpetual campaign of appearances on talk shows is designed to blur the lines between politician and celebrity. He lives for the adulation of celebrity.

    I thought the NYT had it about right:

    Losing out on the Olympics, of course, is not the sort of war-and-peace issue that defines a presidency, and the embarrassment will presumably fade in a news cycle or two. But it provides fodder for critics who are already using it as a metaphor for a president who, in their view, focuses on the wrong priorities and overestimates his capacity to persuade the world to follow his lead.

    And later in the same article:

    But officials said the administration did not independently verify Chicago’s chances, relying instead on the Chicago 2016 committee assertions that the city had enough support to finish in the top two. Mr. Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Ms. Jarrett worked the phones in recent weeks without coming away with a sense of how behind Chicago really was.

    I think this article pretty well sums up the Obama presidency: Obsessed with the latest celebrity buzz but clueless about how people really think about their efforts.

  6. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The Olympics (Petty … « News Says:

    [...] more: PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » The Olympics (Petty … Comments [...]

  7. Pug Says:

    I think what pretty well sums things up is that the right is obsessed with their hatred of Obama, even more than they were with Clinton. This doesn’t make him look nearly as bad as they think and it surely doesn’t make them look very good to be cheering the U.S.’s failure to secure the Olympic games.

    Rio de Janeiro seems like a good place to hold the games but there is a real downside for them if they can’t control their crime problem. During Carnival this year there were massive robberies in which hundreds of tourists were bound and robbed at the same time at their hotels. Business travellers there are told not to even wear a watch or they’ll be robbed and are escorted to and from the office by company security. Rio is beautiful, but dangerous for tourists.

  8. Steven L. Taylor Says:


    Yes, everything a president does it political–I do understand that, and there is no doubt that him flying over and not getting the games is a ding on his reputation.

    Also, I have little doubt that there are example of liberal pettiness on this issue, but that doesn’t mitigate any of my post. You often respond that way to these types of post–i.e., by simply saying “yeah, well the other side does stuff, too.”

    And really: you and I both know what kind of freak-out there would have been on the right if Bush was playing the Obama role and the left was cheering that the Dallas didn’t get the. I find the response in many corners of the right to be especially noteworthy because it really is rather hypocritical.

  9. Alabama Moderate Says:

    Oh Steven… The reaction from the right aside, I believe that the reason for the decision from the IOC is clear. They are obviously holding out for Birmingham. They’re just waiting until we get the cruise ships, first.

  10. andrew Says:

    The self-parody of the Left never ceases to amaze. The same people who never met an American war they didn’t want to manufacture a defeat out of, or a piece of anti-American propaganda they didn’t immediately embrace, are suddenly judging people’s patriotism because Chicago’s political machine didn’t get the dopey Olympics.

  11. Chris Says:

    Right kidney, left kidney. Doesn’t matter which one you like more, they both shoot the same piss through the same tube.

    How’s that for non-partisan?

  12. BeanerECMO Says:

    Some may be giddy that Chicago did not ‘win’ the Olympics, but millions of Chicagoans are overjoyed that Chicago was not picked, and millions of fiscal conservatives are overjoyed that they will not have to bail out Daley and his henchmen. Now, no overruns as Vancouver BC is experiencing ($5B+ and rising), Calgary ($1B+), and London’s untold billions in overruns. However, it must be Bush’s fault, according to that most experienced statesman, Senator Burris. Is there anyway to make this a racial issue?

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