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The Chicago Olympics and Health Care

The International Olympic Committee announced today that Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Along with Tokyo and Madrid, Chicago had also been vying to host the Games. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama took the unique step of flying to Copenhagen, Denmark, to make Chicago's case. Many analysts and pundits believed that the final decision would come down between Chicago and Rio, but Chicago was eliminated after the first round of voting.

Obama came under criticism from Republicans who questioned whether it was a good use of the president's time to fly across the Atlantic to spend a few hours trying to persuade the IOC to select Chicago. And now that Obama's overtures were not enough to sway the IOC, he is coming under criticism again for not being able to use his appeal to bring the Games to his hometown. The Drudge Report is taking a shot at Obama by claiming "the ego has landed." Obama's opponents are also taking to various blogs to laugh at the president and his coming home empty-handed. Some major conservative groups even cheered the news.

While Obama and Chicagoans may be disappointed with the results, there is a lesson to be learned here. Lost in the taunts and analyses is the fact that it was not simply Chicago that was on the line. It was the United States. Obama was advocating on America's behalf. For American citizens and American politicians to mock Obama's trip or to laugh at his perceived failure shows a distinct lack of patriotism. If these critics were criticizing Obama and Chicago, who were they wanting to succeed? Was Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele hoping that Madrid won the Games? It is quite probable that many of the president's detractors are the same people who criticized him for not wearing a flag pin or not being patriotic enough. These criticisms reflect nothing more than opposition for the sake of opposition.

Why does this relate to health care, as the title of this blog post suggests? It matters because it suggests that a lot of the president's opposition is not negotiating in good faith. If Republicans are going to mock Obama for trying to bring the Olympics to the United States and laugh at him for coming up short, can they really be trusted to play a constructive role in health care reform legislation?

The Democrats are in danger of frittering away their majorities because they are too busy trying to make nice with people who have demonstrated they have no interest in their success. The result is legislative paralysis and more time for Republicans to argue that anything Obama and congressional Democrats propose is bad for America. It is unlikely that Democrats will have majorities this large after 2010, so they would be wise to stop lending so much credibility to a childish opposition that has shown it does not deserve to be taken seriously.

3 comment(s):

John B said...

"opposition for the sake of opposition" is the key point here. That is pervading every criticism that the right has uttered since Obama was elected.

S.W. Anderson said...

If President Obama doesn't get it by now that half measures are dangerous and there will be no — zero, nada — bipartisan cooperation on any meaningful policy or program initiatives from Republicans, he's much less smart than I've given him credit for being.

Republicans have made it clear that Obama is not just the opposition, he's the enemy. They're all about doing anything they can to drive up his negatives and shake public confidence in him and in everything he's trying to do. They see any success he achieves as a setback for their future election prospects. Probably for their fund-raising prospects as well.

Furthermore, Republicans know their base. It's made up of people who need regular feedings of red meat, of jeers and smears. The last thing those people want to see is Republican politicians meeting Obama halfway or praising things like his attempt to get the Olympics for Chicago, or more recently his Nobel Peace Prize. (Sen. McCain being the exception, although he couched his congratulations in terms of it being an honor for America.)

MarkInAustin said...

Hi -

I think BHO remains quite popular and the R blanket opposition has not helped the Rs.

What hurts the Ds, as the party in power, is the jobs situation. If it turns around, Ds sweep. if not, they lose.

His attempts to reach out are notable and when the Rs claim BHO is polarizing Indies like me see their disconnect. He should always be seen as reaching out. Occasionally, it will bring results. Always, it gives him the high ground.

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