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White House: Opposing Obama's Olympics Lobbying Is Unpatriotic or Something

6:25 PM, Oct 2, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Earlier this week, House Republican Leader John Boehner criticized Obama's Olympics lobbying jaunt to Copenhagen. "Listen I think it's a great idea to promote Chicago but he's the president of the United States, not the mayor of Chicago," Boehner said. "And the problems we have here at home affect all Americans and that's where his attention ought to be." RNC Chairman Michael Steele also said he wanted the Olympics to come to Chicago, but thought that "at a time of war, at a time of recession ... this trip, while nice, is not necessary for the president." Maybe, just maybe, it would have made more sense to focus on winning the war in Afghanistan than winning the Olympics for Chicago.

On Tuesday, the White House struck back. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs falsely implied that Steele opposed bringing the Olympics to Chicago:

"Who's he rooting for? (Laughter) Is he hoping to hop a plane to Brazil and catch the Olympics in Rio? (Laughter.) Maybe it's Madrid."

The official White House blog also claimed that "In the past, hosting the Olympics has been a source of pride and unity for the country." Actually, that's not always been true: In 1972 60 percent of Coloradans voted against hosting the 1976 Olympics. But the facts weren't really important. The point was that White House wanted you to know that if you opposed bringing the Olympics to Chicago--or even criticized Obama's trip to Copenhagen--you didn't really have "pride" in your country (unlike Michelle Obama, who might have been proud of her country for the second time in her adult life had Chicago won).

I was rooting for Rio. The United States has hosted the Olympics eight times before. Not a single South American country has ever hosted the games. Isn't it only fair for Brazil to get its day in the sun? And after declaring that "no world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed," wasn't it hypocritical for the most powerful man in the world to jet to Copenhagen to demand his country get the Olympics for the 9th time?

Wouldn't it have been smart diplomacy for Obama to have opted not to throw his weight around? Or does "smart diplomacy" only involve sacrificing our interests and the the interests of our democratic allies to appease our autocratic adversaries?

Furthermore, 45 percent of Chicagoans oppose bringing the Olympics to Chicago (47 percent were in favor). Presumably opponents have reasons other than a deep-seated hatred of America for wanting to see the city fail in its bid? Or does the White House think Chicagoans who don't want the games are unpatriotic, too? It seems that, like Obamacare, the more people learned what hosting the Olympics really means -- higher taxes, heavy traffic, more corruption -- the less support there was. So, I was wrong to write this morning that Chicago lost. It didn't lose. Neither did America. Obama's cowboy diplomacy lost. And I cheered.