Obama's Olympic bid stagecraft

Sixteen days ago, Richard Baehr noted speculation that President Obama would make a last-minute dramatic trip to Copenhagen this week, to pitch the case for Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics. The publicly-announced plan had been for Michelle to represent Chicago's bid. Because other contenders were sending their top leaders, it seemed as if Obama were letting Chicago down. Unless you took the cynical view and saw this all as dramatic framing of an upcoming event, so as to maximize propaganda benefits.

Baehr wrote that winning the Olympics was probably in the bag if Obama showed up, and throwing money at such a project was a perfect fit with the Obama political needs.
I do not believe Chicago could lose if he were there and  looked delegates in the eye, and asked them to vote for Chicago. Other countries' leaders, not spouses, are showing up:  Japan, Brazil and Spain. Putin and Tony Blair showed up to seal the deal for London (2012), and Russian Winter Games (2014). 

The stimulus package would have been great way to help Chicago's bid -- talk about shovel ready projects! Other countries get national allocation for capital costs if they win, and provide guarantees all costs will be covered.  The US does not, hence Daley will have to rely on near-bankrupt city to pay bills private money fails to cover. 

Rick Moran points out that this support is a payoff to the Daley political machine, from which Obama's political career sprang:

To my mind, it begs the question; just what does Obama owe Daley that he would put his domestic agenda on hold, while going out of town during the crucial lead up to the Iranian talks this Thursday (by his own measurement, a hugely important part of his presidency)?

Yes, the Olympics have the potential to bring a lot of
cash into the US - but a lot of it would go to Daley cronies and friends. It would be the crowning achievement of the Daley family's 50 year domination of Chicago and Illinois politics, assure hizzoner of having a statue erected of himself, and probably make Daley Mayor for Life - if not in title then certainly in effect.


I think this purported late decision was all stagecraft. Obama all along intended to go, but wanted as much media hype as possible. It is far more dramatic to construct the following story line:

  • 1. Busy president decides to send wife. Statecraft takes precedence.
  • 2. Other countries send leaders.
  • 3. Chicago becomes a damsel in distress.
  • 4. Despite incredibly important agenda items, the president drops everything and flies in to the rescue.
  • 5. The president's noble sacrifice wins the day.

Not everyone in Chicago is anxious to pay for the extravaganza. But apparently the word is out that local opposition to the bid should not receive attention.

C. Edmund Wright sees that as problematic in the age of the internet:

As the Drudge Report headlines screamed - first in red - that a Fox TV affiliate in Chicago has been "ordered not to run" a story about an anti-Chicago Olympic bid website, my thoughts immediately went to the Willie Horton story.

The Willie Horton controversy during the 1988 Presidential election cycle was, among other things, a controversy that received many millions of dollars worth of unpaid media coverage during the Bush 41-Dukakis campaign. The irony is, the original Willie Horton ad was run by Al Gore's primary campaign and the entire local cable media buy was less than two thousand dollars.  In other words, that original ad buy had no ability to impact a national campaign.  It did not even have a measurable impact on the specific primary in fact.

In this case, a local Fox affiliate in Chicago aired the story last Thursday.

It was not a headline story nor a major feature piece. It was presented as a cute local interest story. 

Upon pressure from the committee in charge of making Chicago's case to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the station's news director has pulled the story.

Normally stories like this might run 2-3 times, usually in an abridged version for the second and third runs.

In a fractured media environment, a local Fox affiliate in Chicago running a minor story would not have any impact in all likelihood.  Now, with Drudge banner headlines and all of the ensuing links, it will have impact.  So, did the Chicago Olympic Committee just "Willie Horton" itself?  

Update: See also Rick Moran's post at Right Wing Nut House, Byron York, and Michelle Malkin

Sixteen days ago, Richard Baehr noted speculation that President Obama would make a last-minute dramatic trip to Copenhagen this week, to pitch the case for Chicago hosting the 2016 Olympics. The publicly-announced plan had been for Michelle to represent Chicago's bid. Because other contenders were sending their top leaders, it seemed as if Obama were letting Chicago down. Unless you took the cynical view and saw this all as dramatic framing of an upcoming event, so as to maximize propaganda benefits.

Baehr wrote that winning the Olympics was probably in the bag if Obama showed up, and throwing money at such a project was a perfect fit with the Obama political needs.
I do not believe Chicago could lose if he were there and  looked delegates in the eye, and asked them to vote for Chicago. Other countries' leaders, not spouses, are showing up:  Japan, Brazil and Spain. Putin and Tony Blair showed up to seal the deal for London (2012), and Russian Winter Games (2014). 

The stimulus package would have been great way to help Chicago's bid -- talk about shovel ready projects! Other countries get national allocation for capital costs if they win, and provide guarantees all costs will be covered.  The US does not, hence Daley will have to rely on near-bankrupt city to pay bills private money fails to cover. 

Rick Moran points out that this support is a payoff to the Daley political machine, from which Obama's political career sprang:

To my mind, it begs the question; just what does Obama owe Daley that he would put his domestic agenda on hold, while going out of town during the crucial lead up to the Iranian talks this Thursday (by his own measurement, a hugely important part of his presidency)?

Yes, the Olympics have the potential to bring a lot of
cash into the US - but a lot of it would go to Daley cronies and friends. It would be the crowning achievement of the Daley family's 50 year domination of Chicago and Illinois politics, assure hizzoner of having a statue erected of himself, and probably make Daley Mayor for Life - if not in title then certainly in effect.


I think this purported late decision was all stagecraft. Obama all along intended to go, but wanted as much media hype as possible. It is far more dramatic to construct the following story line:

  • 1. Busy president decides to send wife. Statecraft takes precedence.
  • 2. Other countries send leaders.
  • 3. Chicago becomes a damsel in distress.
  • 4. Despite incredibly important agenda items, the president drops everything and flies in to the rescue.
  • 5. The president's noble sacrifice wins the day.

Not everyone in Chicago is anxious to pay for the extravaganza. But apparently the word is out that local opposition to the bid should not receive attention.

C. Edmund Wright sees that as problematic in the age of the internet:

As the Drudge Report headlines screamed - first in red - that a Fox TV affiliate in Chicago has been "ordered not to run" a story about an anti-Chicago Olympic bid website, my thoughts immediately went to the Willie Horton story.

The Willie Horton controversy during the 1988 Presidential election cycle was, among other things, a controversy that received many millions of dollars worth of unpaid media coverage during the Bush 41-Dukakis campaign. The irony is, the original Willie Horton ad was run by Al Gore's primary campaign and the entire local cable media buy was less than two thousand dollars.  In other words, that original ad buy had no ability to impact a national campaign.  It did not even have a measurable impact on the specific primary in fact.

In this case, a local Fox affiliate in Chicago aired the story last Thursday.

It was not a headline story nor a major feature piece. It was presented as a cute local interest story. 

Upon pressure from the committee in charge of making Chicago's case to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the station's news director has pulled the story.

Normally stories like this might run 2-3 times, usually in an abridged version for the second and third runs.

In a fractured media environment, a local Fox affiliate in Chicago running a minor story would not have any impact in all likelihood.  Now, with Drudge banner headlines and all of the ensuing links, it will have impact.  So, did the Chicago Olympic Committee just "Willie Horton" itself?  

Update: See also Rick Moran's post at Right Wing Nut House, Byron York, and Michelle Malkin