Obama Lobbying for Chicago Olympics
When I saw the headline “White House lobbies for Olympics in Chicago” at Memeorandum, I was prepared to write about the abuse of power and the bringing of machine-style politics to the Oval Office. One has to read a bit into Ken Vogel‘s Politico piece to think otherwise.
The Obama White House is playing an unprecedented role in the bid to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago, with top adviser Valerie Jarrett spearheading an effort that draws on the international symbolism of his presidency.
Any president would have an interest in helping an American city win an Olympic bid. But none has been as closely associated with an Olympic proposal as Obama, and the emerging effort by the White House is unusually pointed in its attempt to wrap the campaign around the president and his appealing image abroad — a strategy veteran Olympics watchers say is paying dividends and could result in an enormous hometown farewell party if Obama wins a second term.
“Without Obama in the White House, I would say there would be no chance whatsoever for the U.S. winning,” said Canadian IOC member Dick Pound. “The United States is the only country in this race that has had an absolutely extraordinary transformational experience with the election of Obama, which weighs very heavily in its favor.”
While the initiative is not formally directed by the West Wing, it relies heavily on Obama associates and confidants to raise private capital and seeks to parlay the international goodwill surrounding his election into a victory for Chicago.
Obama himself has recorded two separate videos supporting the bid since his election as president, one for presentation to the General Assembly of the European Olympic Committee in Istanbul less than three weeks after defeating Republican John McCain, and a second that was shown to IOC members during a tour of Chicago last month.
If he were coming into this de novo and using the power of his office to bring to Olympics to his “home” town, this would be unseemly at the very least. But it appears that the competition is down to Chicago and several cities not in the United States. Which means, he’s simply trying to leverage his personal popularity around the world to get the Olympics for an American city in preference to a foreign city. Presumably, leaders of the other countries seeking the Games are doing likewise.
So, pretty much a non-story story, no?