I’ll admit that I laughed when I first heard that the Chicago Olympic bid was rejected in the first round, first one out. I really did. Not because I hate Chicago, or because I hate America or even because I am unpatriotic. Not even because my distaste for Obama outweighs my love for this country. None of that.
I do find it interesting that the left takes conservative disdain for Obama as proof of a lack of patriotism or as an indication that the conservative movement has entered an era in which its politics are dominated by a deep visceral dislike of President Obama. Here’s Paul Krugman in the NY Times.
So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.
But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it – whether or not it’s good for America.
Implicit in Professor Krugman’s observation is that Obama stands for what is good for America; that the Chicago games were unequivocally good for America and that conservatives opposed Obama in his mission or took comfort in Chicago’s failure principally because the outcome reflected on him. The same argument is being forcefully made regarding health care – to oppose the Democratic proposal is to have no proposal and therefore opposition is a purely partisan act. Ultimately, this view takes you down the road that equates criticism of the president or opposition to his policies (or to his cult of personality) as a rejection of America – and that implies a belief that the president is the state. Krugman’s viewpoint is only possible if you attach importance to Obama as the singular symbol and embodiment of America; ironic when you consider the facility with which the left separated their love of country from their absolute hatred of Bush. Here’s Krugman on an October 12th edition of “Squawk Box”, just about a year ago, via the Business and Media Institute.
“I was out there – you know we went through a period when a lot of people were worshipping George Bush – if you can say that,” Krugman said. “He had an 80 percent approval rating, people were saying he is wonderful, anyone who criticizes him is unpatriotic and I was saying, ‘No, he’s actually a pretty bad guy. He’s got bad policies and he’s not being honest with us.'”
The reason I laughed when I heard about the rejection of Chicago in the first round, was because like many people, I thought Obama had it in the bag. It never occurred to me that he would travel to Copenhagen with the entourage that included Oprah if the deal had not already been previously sealed. I dreaded the media spectacle of seeing him take the credit, and the inevitable week of media Obamamaniacal hoopla. The rejection was stunning, and as a former Army officer, I was stunned that he would slap the Presidential Seal on the table if there were any chance that the prestige of office could be compromised. Jeremy Haddock explains in The American Thinker.
In the nineteenth century, the Royal Navy would not use its guns in salute unless it was known that the salute would be returned. Even a midshipman in command of a six-oar rowboat with a swivel gun knew this. If it wasn’t certain, a party would be sent ashore to find out the port-admiral’s intentions. An unreciprocated salute was an insufferable insult, so it was far better in cases of doubt to not put the honor of the Service at risk.
Similarly, no serious leader would countenance exposing himself and his country to such an easily avoidable affront, especially by such a snivelling parcel of amateurs, and still expect to command respect in the world. Anybody who caves in to Obama from now on has less beans than a sports panel.
But, unbelievably, it turned out that 2016 was not in the bag! Obama set off on a “take no prisoners” campaign with nothing more than his unexampled hubris, apparently believing that his persona and magnificence would win over a few starstruck IOC cheerleaders. Obama gambled the prestige of the United States on an opportunity to enhance his personal glory if he won. He lost. He can pretend that it is nothing, but unfortunately it is not nothing.
Again, the rejection of Chicago was stunning, and revealed that there was no advance work, no deal-making or diplomacy to insure the vote – only the implicit belief that the Obama charm and charisma would carry the vote. This strikes many of us as incredible; an amazing rookie mistake that reveals a deep misunderstanding of the use and limits of presidential influence, and naivete that is both stunning and alarming. It was the perfect manifestation of the stark observation that had been shouted down and drowned out by the media for the last two years; Obama is a rookie manager with no executive experience, and it shows. It was like laughing while watching the video of the bicycle jumper crash low and into the side of the building; you just know from the onset could end badly, but the confidence, the enthusiasm and the very fact that they’re taping make you think, “surely they’ve worked this out…”. What made it even funnier in this instance was the crowd of his advisers and friends literally gloating in advance about his success (Rahm Emmanuel – “…we’ll make sure they get good seats…”), and the press corps standing by breathlessly waiting for his triumph, and their utter alarm and confusion at the eventual outcome.
Still, I suppose we shouldn’t be laughing.