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Why Does the NYT Hate Obama So Much?

6:04 PM, Oct 2, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Well, looky here. The New York Times makes many of the same observations conservatives are making about Obama's very public effort to bring the Olympics to Chicago. Will it be accused of "rejoicing" in America's loss?

It doesn't have the snarky tone of some conservative commentary, but the paper most likely to be sympathetic to the president is harsh, because the truth is harsh. It is hard not to question his judgment, his assessment of the politics of the IOC, his estimation of his own persuasive ability, and his risk of prestige, in light of the result, as the paper points out:

President Obama not only failed to bring home the gold, he could not even muster the silver or bronze.

A dramatic 20-hour mission across the ocean to persuade the International Olympic Committee to give the 2016 Summer Games to Chicago proved such a miscalculation that his adopted hometown finished fourth of four candidate cities.

Rarely has a president put his credibility on the line on the world stage in such a personal way and been slapped down so sharply in real time. While Chicago may have lost to Rio de Janeiro for all sorts of reasons that had nothing to do with Mr. Obama, the fact that he made himself the face of the city's bid invariably meant it would be taken as a stinging rejection of its favorite son.

Check out the questions the NYT raises, without even bothering to put them in the mouths of "critics" or "conservatives" so as to discount them:

The defeat will be used as a political metaphor and raise painful questions. Why did he invest so much time, taxpayer money and, perhaps most important, presidential prestige in a losing effort? How did he misjudge the potential vote so badly that Chicago evidently was not even in the top tier? What does it say about a leader who may be far more popular abroad than his predecessor yet has trouble converting that esteem into tangible benefits for the United States?

I was ambivalent about the Olympics coming to Chicago, leaning on the anti side. A city with a history of demonstrable corruption assisted by a big-spending Chicagoan in the White House did not sound like a recipe for taxpayer safety. I've also long doubted the true economic boon of mega-events and sports complexes to cities. They're always oversold, and when evaluated in retrospect, often cost a community more than they make it. (See Lillehammer, Salt Lake City, and Sydney for example.) On the other hand, one does not enjoy seeing her country passed over for an honor on an international stage, but my rational objections overrode my more sentimental pro-Olympics feelings.

I also assumed Obama knew the Chicago bid was a done deal before he flew to Copenhagen. The fact that he didn't, and that he miscalculated so badly, is shocking. The lesson that his popularity, and a nice speech-during which he sold the U.S., in true Obama fashion, as the great country that elected him in November- won't always do the trick with the international community is a valuable one for the president to learn. I wish he'd learned it before today, and we can hope he'll put the lesson to use in the future.