Last Thoughts Before Obama's Pitch for the Chicago Olympics

Three columnists set the stage on the day of Obama's Copenhagen visit

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On Thursday, President Obama joins the first lady and Oprah Winfrey in Copenhagen to try to bring the 2016 Olympics to Chicago. Amid heated debates over health care reform and the war in Afghanistan, the commentariat warn that the President's Olympic lobbying carries risks. Some surprising criticism has come Chicago residents as well. Is his Olympic getaway worth the trouble? Three columnists offer contrasting takes on the morning of his Olympic pitch.

  • How About Some Olympic-Sized Bidding for the Public Option? Gail Collins says at The New York Times. "If you're going to waste the administrative momentum on a big gamble, it really ought to be to slow global warming or to reform Wall Street, not to make sure the 2016 triathlon champion wins his medal in Illinois." Is she the only one who thinks the fight for universal health care is about to be lost? Or is the president so carefree because he has already given up? Collins isn't sure.

He did say the other day that he couldn't go because he was too busy 'making real the promise of quality, affordable health care for every American.' His new confidence that it's all right to leave suggests that maybe the president feels as though the promise got real when the Senate Finance Committee began pummeling a bill into exactly the shape desired by lawmakers who represent large and representative states like North Dakota and Montana and Maine.

If so, this whole scenario is very depressing. I prefer to think that Obama suddenly agreed to go to Denmark not because Chicago couldn't win without him, but because he just needed a short break from thinking about Max Baucus. 

  • The City of My Youth Is Ready to Meet the World! At The Washington Post, the idea of his hometown hosting the 2016 games has David Broder beaming. As a "one-time high school and college hurdler," Broder finds the Olympics "irresistible." He makes his Olympic bid for Chicago from the pages of the Post:

I'd love for my home town of Chicago and its good people, many of whom have been waiting many decades for the Cubs to break through, to learn what it means to be part of the Olympics. And equally, I'd love for the world to get to know Chicago -- with its magnificent lakefront, its healthy, diverse neighborhoods and its mayor, Richard Daley, who is as smart and accomplished a builder of urban success as anyone in the world.

In 1893, Chicago played host to the World's Columbian Exposition, which for decades was the model for all other world's fairs. The main building of that event remains in place, now the Museum of Science and Industry, a treat for children and adults alike. With help from Obama, Chicago can do as much or more for this century. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • 'If the Nation Weren't in Crisis, Obama's Trip to Copenhagen Would Be Charming,' former Bush strategist Nicole Wallace writes at The Daily Beast. But the nation is in crisis. And President Obama risks looking out of touch with the times.
President Obama will subject himself to three potentially damaging lines of attack when he boards the plane to Copenhagen. First, that he appears out of touch and absent at a moment of great domestic and international significance; second, that his priorities are parochial; and third, that he is disingenuous for reversing a statement made days ago that he could not make the trip because it would interfere with his health-care campaign.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.