October 3, 2009

Olympic Hyperpartisanism

Top headlines today on Memeorandum:  Barack Obama's lobbying in Copenhagen wasn't enough; Chicago's bid for the 2016 summer Olympics was rejected on the first ballot and the Olympics are going to Rio instead.  The headlines?
  • Joe Scarborough on the Huffington Post* -- "Count me as one conservative who is disappointed that President Obama's hometown will not be hosting the 2012 Olympic Games.  —  Chicago is a beautiful city that would have made a perfect backdrop for the Olympics.  The President was right to fly to Copenhagen..."
  • Weekly Standard deletes reference to "Cheers" in their office after Chicago loses Olympic bid...
  • Rooting against America:  Beck, conservatives cheer elimination...
  • Conservatives revel in Obama's Olympic bid failure
  • Conservatives revel in America's Olympic defeat
  • Bad day for the USA.  Good day for the GOP?
  • Obama's Olympic failure will only add doubts to his Presidency
  • For Obama, an Unsuccessful campaign
  • VIDEO:  Mission Accomplished for conservatives who rooted against America
  • Shock and disbelief after Chicago loses bid for 2016 Games
  • White House:  Opposing Obama's Olympics lobbying is unpatriotic or something
  • Chicago out of contention for 2016 Olympics Senator Rowland Burris Blames Bush

By all the Gods in Asgard, what a tempest in a teapot this is?  People, this is not political news at all.  It is sports news.  And not hugely significant sports news, really.

The IOC awarded the Olympics to Rio, as opposed to Tokyo, Madrid, or Chicago, because there has never yet been an Olympics on the entire continent of South America and they figured, "It's high time there was."  They're part of the world, too.  Japan's prime minister lobbied for the Tokyo bid, and he lost, too.  The King of Spain lobbied for Madrid, along with the longtime chariman of the Olympics Committee, and Spain lost, too.  Rio had geographical novelty going for it and the IOC doesn't give a damn about whether Obama is a Democrat or a Republican. I'm sure the delegates to the IOC had many more good reasons to vote for Rio as well.

Yet we have partisan sniping about this.  Republicans savor a setback for President Obama and Democrats decry this savor as "unpatriotic." And try to shift the blame on President Bush, to continue beating that thoroughly dead horse.

Even Andrew Sullivan, who starts out sensibly when he writes "I didn't think it was a good idea for Obama to go to Copenhagen given the intense policy questions he as to address right now. It seemed a trivial matter to me compared to two wars, healthcare, the Iran question and the fiscal and economic crisis," winds up taking a shot when he concludes "Criticizing a president is one thing - and important. Hoping he fails - even to the point of celebrating a national loss - is a sign of partisanship that has become pathologically blind to any sense of perspective or patriotism."

While Sully is correct, even this escalates the situation above the importance it is properly due.  Something I suppose I might be accused of being guilty of myself, now, although my dismay is not to the loss of the Olympic bid, but rather the hyper partisan reaction to it.  If we'd have got the Olympics, that would have been cool.  We didn't.  Oh well.  American should collectively shrug their shoulders, Chicagoans should say some bad words, and then we should get on with our respective days.  There are lawns to be mowed and babies' diapers to be changed and TPS reports to fax.  This is not a partisan issue.  Trying to make it into one is weird, creepy, and faintly foreboding.

My only criticism is that Obama's personal lobbying for the Olympics is somewhat demeaning to the Presidency, although the President seems to have mixed in some mixed-result diplomacy with European heads of state along with what I'm sure was an enjoyable if brief early-autumn Scandinavian holiday for the First Family.

Non-issue.  Move along, folks, there's nothing to see here.

*  WassupwitDAT?

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