President Obama gambled with his recent trip to Denmark – and he lost. He not only lost Chicago’s 2016 Olympics bid, but he lost political capital when he probably needed it the most.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and GOP critics recently denounced the president’s Olympic bid trip, suggesting that the Commander-in-Chief had more important issues to focus on such as the current health care crisis, high unemployment and the conflict with Afghanistan.
Others suggest that the president was right for making an appearance at the Olympic bid, but wrong for directing the bid towards his own city of Chicago. The Chicago bid was seen as a conflict of interest and misinterpreted as a political favor to Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley.
Some thought that, as a city constantly remembered for its reputation of corruption, an Olympic games bid could have placed “Chi Town” on the map for the world to see. Supporters suggested that the Olympic games could have brought thousands of jobs and a more international presence to an American city although studies show that the development of Olympic stadiums and sports arenas do very little to help stimulate surrounding neighborhoods.
Perhaps the president was in a bit of a Catch 22. By deciding to attend the bid, the conservative right suggested that Obama was simply not doing his job, but if he had decided to stay in the White House then critics would have cited him for doing too little.
Interestingly, this is one minor complaint that Republicans and GOP lawmakers may want to avoid when the premier issues of health care, high unemployment and the administration’s handling of Afghanistan are still on the table.
GOP lawmakers suggest that the goal of the president should be to create as many job opportunities by the end of 2011 and to focus on an affordable health care plan that actually works. The “change” promised to the American people in November is slowly running out as unemployment skyrockets beyond 9 percent.
The White House had helped support this initiative to bring the Olympic games back to the United States, which was last held in Atlanta in 1996. The administration suggested the economic benefits from this effort could have spilled over into the American economy, but the question is: Who gets these benefits? Some critics saw Chicago as the sole recipient of this revenue earned, when the rest of the country’s states are requesting bailouts from the federal government.
Perhaps the president’s popularity abroad could have influenced international organizations to do more business within the United States. In a time where states such as Massachusetts and California were requesting federal bailouts, the Olympic games could have signaled an effort to bring business opportunities and foreign direct investment back to U.S. economy. This investment from international corporations abroad could have created more employment opportunities for Americans during the recession.