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?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    So, pretty much a non-story story, no?

    I see your point, and am sympathetic to it,James, but there seems to me a reinforcing story line here, of something I’ve pointed out in the past… the far-left-leaning IOC. Read again:

    “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.”

    Given this, and the overtly political activity the IOC has anguaged in, in previous years, is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the IOC is playing the part of advocacy for the far left?

  2. David says:

    Seems like the real story here is the unfortunate name of that Canadian IOC member.

  3. Triumph says:

    is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the IOC is playing the part of advocacy for the far left?

    Yes–this is right on. Let’s look at the “sports” that are played in the Olympics: ping pong, badminton, team handball, rhythmic gymnastics, etc…

    These are all either liberal elitist sports or ones that cater to communist, anti-american countries, like China.

    On the other hand, real American sports like football and donkey basketball are banned by the IOC. Next time around, even baseball is being dropped due to the IOC’s rampant anti-americanism.

    It is pretty clear that B. Hussein’s enthusiasm for the olympics is part of his larger socialist agenda. Next on his plate will be forcing Midwest corn farmers to start growing arugula for east coast elitists like himself.

  4. William d'Inger says:

    Seems like the real story here is the unfortunate name of that Canadian IOC member.

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Haaaaa … !!!

    Hey, Bithead’s right (as usual). The Olympics are an exercise in political correctness wherein sport is just the excuse to engage in global socialism. But since O’bama has cachet in the arena, I say let him bring home the bacon.

    Unseemly you say? Give me a break. We’re discussing liberals here. Unseemly is their hallmark.

  5. Joe says:

    I don’t think any other American cities were left in the running for the 2016 Olympics. It’s an honor to host the games, and we should push for it whenever we can.

  6. odograph says:

    is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the IOC is playing the part of advocacy for the far left?

    LOL.

    Olympic lobbying plays into city-level boosterism, and does not even rise to the level of ideology, let alone “advocacy for the far left.” Look at who drove and made the Los Angeles success (a Republican).

    To me the bottom line is the bottom line: will it pay?

  7. Eric says:

    Given this, and the overtly political activity the IOC has anguaged in, in previous years, is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the IOC is playing the part of advocacy for the far left?

    and then this:

    Hey, Bithead’s right (as usual). The Olympics are an exercise in political correctness wherein sport is just the excuse to engage in global socialism. But since O’bama has cachet in the arena, I say let him bring home the bacon.

    This is kind of funny. As conservatives, you love the money and economic boon that this will bring to Chicago and the surrounding region, but you hate Obama so much you just gotta bitch about something, right?

    I mean, you nuts have no problem with our President twisting arms and making s**t up when it comes to, oh, I dunno, starting wars or torturing, but now that Obama is using his bully pulpit to bring some money in–you do understand it’s money, right?–you ‘tards have your panties in a bunch. Amazing.

  8. Bithead says:

    (Annoyed glare)

    Well, you tell me, guys… how else to explain the overtly political statement from the IOC official James quotes? Or dd you hope nobody noticed?

  9. Let’s see: US President would like to see Olympics in US rather than elsewhere and has a special interest because it is his home city.

    Yes, a radical turn of events explainable only in ideological terms.

  10. Drew says:

    “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.”

    Cool. I guess its safe to go outside again…..

  11. Drew says:

    Talk about LOL:

    All you guys who jumped on Bit seem more eager to do that than understand the point:

    The issue isn’t whether Obama, or any President, should lobby for the games. It was the slobbering (and silly) statement of the IOC member he was observing…………….or perhaps I’ve been asleep for three months. Has poverty, disease and crime been wiped out??

  12. William d'Inger says:

    Gee, Eric, I said the Olympics are a liberal exercise (no pun intended) and given the president is the head liberal in charge, he ought to get us the pork and to heck with all that “unseemly” gobbledygook. I am thoroughly in favor of Chicago Olympics and think we ought to use every resource at our disposal to win the nod. Methinks you’re the one wearing your panties too tight.

  13. Bithead says:

    Steven Taylor;

    You’re missing it.

    I made no comment at all about Obama’s efforts. They matter not a whit to the point I’m making

    My response was focused on the IOC itself and specifically, the attitude of that body as expressed by one of it’s officials.

  14. odograph says:

    Drew, ‘splain to me how the LA Olympics could be a success for Republican market ideology, but any future Olympics would be a liberal plot?

    (The Canadian IOC official Bit?)

  15. Triumph says:

    I made no comment at all about Obama’s efforts. They matter not a whit to the point I’m making

    My response was focused on the IOC itself and specifically, the attitude of that body as expressed by one of it’s officials.

    Lets look at what Dick Pound said:

    “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.”

    This is simply a fact. Lets run through the other competitors. Tokyo, Japan. Prime Minister Abe resigned in disgrace a 18 months ago. And, frankly, Taro Aso who just became PM in Nov. 2008 is a wet blanket.

    Madrid. ok, president Zapatero is a socialist, but he’s been in power for 5 years and is old hat.

    Rio. Same deal as Spain, except Lula is an even older hat.

    When your competition is these three leaders, for Dick, Obama looks good by comparison.

  16. Eric says:

    Gee, Eric, I said the Olympics are a liberal exercise (no pun intended) and given the president is the head liberal in charge, he ought to get us the pork and to heck with all that “unseemly” gobbledygook. I am thoroughly in favor of Chicago Olympics and think we ought to use every resource at our disposal to win the nod. Methinks you’re the one wearing your panties too tight.

    Indeed, forgive me for thinking that your and Bitsy’s comments were any sort of backhanded slap at Obama or liberals in general. Normally, you two are the epitome of disinterested, dispassionate, and nonpartisan discourse… wait a sec, then there’s this:

    [William D’Inger @ 8:36 AM] Unseemly you say? Give me a break. We’re discussing liberals here. Unseemly is their hallmark.

    Yes, indeed, how could I have been so mistaken….

  17. Bithead says:

    When your competition is these three leaders, for Dick, Obama looks good by comparison.

    Now I KNOW you’re being obtuse by intent.

    The statement made no comparisons at all to these other leaders. Clearly the only comparison being made in the statement James quoted was of the current American administrations over previous ones.

    And isn’t it amazing the dance one has to do to make Obama look good? (Chuckle)

  18. sam says:

    Does the Olympics still have synchronized swimming and that freaking event where girls dance around with streamers on sticks? Snooore.

    Funny Olympics story: Vasiliy Alekseyev, the great Russian heavyweight weight lifter had a really droll sense of humor. A reporter asked him once if he’d watched the flyweight and lightweight competitions. “No,” he said, “who wants to watch little men lift little weights.”

  19. An Interested Party says:

    Oh my gosh! A little bit more of the not-so-secret grand liberal conspiracy has been revealed!!! How dare that IOC official say anything nice about our president!!! Who in the hell does he think he is!?! I do want to thank those on this thread who have had the decency and the courage to point out to all the rest of us the nefarious little details of this liberal plot…where would we be without you…how horrible it must be to live in a world where the (insert your favorite adjective) liberals control so much…

  20. Bithead says:

    Lame, AIP.
    Very lame.

    As I suspect you know. Still, it’s all you’ve got, I suppose.

  21. anjin-san says:

    I thought chuckles had already been rounded up by Acorn operatives and sent to one of the FEMA re education camps.

  22. Matt says:

    Only bithead could turn the Olympics into a grand nefarious liberal plot lawl..

  23. An Interested Party says:

    re: Bithead | May 12, 2009 | 02:06 pm

    Yes indeed…using this story to launch a stupid rant against liberals is incredibly lame…it’s amazing how just about anything there is to talk about can be turned into a silly-assed antiliberal screed…what a talent you have…

  24. anjin-san says:

    Look gang, bitsy is on to us, the game is up. We can only hope the White House International Comintern and President Chairman Obama take swift action against this true American patriot…

  25. Bithead says:

    For a long time, actually. The pattern with the IOC is all too well-established. Given the history I point up here, in a 2002 post, go ahead and explain to me specifically how it is my conclusion is so far off reality.

    http://bitsblog.florack.us/?p=447

    Go ahead. I’m waiting.

  26. Bithead says:
  27. anjin-san says:

    Bit’s blog? Home of the chickenhawk and his flock? Sorry dude, as a wise man once said “vita est quoque brevis”.

  28. Bithead says:

    And so, when challenged to back the rants with actual facts, the leftists in here fall into silence, with the exception of Anjin, who, apparently on a genetic basis can’t stop running his mouth, and so lapses into insult.

    I can’t say I’m much surprised.

  29. anjin-san says:

    It’s not an insult bit, just a description. You say we are “leftists” I say you are a chickenhawk. What a surprise that you can dish it out but whine like thunder when it is directed at you. Why don’t you run along and have a nice cry?

    I also note that you ran like the wind when called out to have a debate about military strategy. Gee, another shocker.

    Have a nice day, chicken boy.

  30. Bithead says:

    What a surprise that you can dish it out but whine like thunder when it is directed at you.

    Whine? Hardly. Just giving voice to the idea that once again, I called it correctly from the outset.

    I also note that you ran like the wind when called out to have a debate about military strategy.

    Ran? No. I simply ignored yet another attempt by you to change the topic when you can’t handle the topic at hand. Again, I’m no longer playing your game, and that includes your constant and pathetic attempts at distracting from the topic at hand, when you can’t handle them.

    Back to your corner.

  31. anjin-san says:

    I called it correctly from the outset.

    Yes. Sort of like you called McCain’s big win last year correctly. What do they call you, Nostradamus? I remember you were patting yourself on the back about that one too.

    I’m no longer playing your game

    You mean the game of who actually knows something, as opposed to just running their mouth? You made a comment about knowing something about military tatics, (see below) and when I walked through the door that you opened, you retreated with haste. So stick to your game, “speak loudly and run like the wind”.

    And isn’t it interesting how a bunch of anti-war leftists are now suddenly experts in military tactics?

    Bithead at May 11, 2009 10:12 Permalink

  32. Bithead says:

    Drop me a line when you make it up to the first grade, OK, Anjin?

  33. An Interested Party says:

    And so, when challenged to back the rants with actual facts, the leftists in here fall into silence…

    Actually, it was you who originally started with the rant about the supposed liberal conspiracy of the IOC and believe me, their was nothing challenging about it…the only reason that anyone other than Anjin has fallen into silence is that no one else has the time and/or wished to exert the effort needed to continue to engage you in your bullshit…

  34. Eric says:

    the only reason that anyone other than Anjin has fallen into silence is that no one else has the time and/or wished to exert the effort needed to continue to engage you in your bullshit…

    Seconded.

    Anjin, thanks for taking one for the team? 😉 (<–Actually, maybe I shouldn’t use an emoticon; Bitsy and the other nutties might think them to be the mark of some sort of Masonic, Illuminati-esque liberal conspiracy… ACK!! Too late!)

  35. anjin-san says:

    Drop me a line when you make it up to the first grade, OK, Anjin?

    Wow. Pretty good comeback. If you are in elementary school that is. Most of us moved on to bigger and better put downs decades ago, but perhaps you should stay in your comfort zone.

    Tell ya what C Hawk, spend the next year or so reading up on military tactics and strategy, then let’s have a discussion on the topic. A year might give you enough time to get to where you can keep up. Let’s discuss Fabius Maximus and his attrition strategy in the Second Punic War. Look it up dude, there is a lot of information on the internets.

  36. anjin-san says:

    Of course instead of actual study, you could just watch a few more “Rambo” movies. You know, dance with the one who ‘brung you…