Obama?s Olympic Disappointment

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Rio 2016Some political opponents of President Barack Obama?can?t hide their glee that Chicago lost to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the race to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. To these opponents, the vote against Chicago is a vote against Obama. Indeed, even some centrist political analysts thought the president took a risky gamble that could haunt him politically.

The president, whose even-tempered personality has earned him the nickname ?No Drama Obama,? broke from that mold to make an overnight dash from Washington to Copenhagen to lobby for his hometown. Obama and First Lady Michelle had taken their star power to the Danish capital to make Chicago?s case, ignoring Republican opponents who claimed it was a bad time to go with foreign policy challenges in Iran and Afghanistan and the U.S. Congress bogged down in a domestic healthcare debate.

But Obama?s detractors are missing the point. They should have rooted for Chicago, a big American city, if they want to be thought of as responsible and patriotic citizens. Chicago?s loss should not be their gain. Moreover, Rio had a good bid and games are about wins and losses. Nobody should fault the president for giving it a try, along with the First Lady, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Johnson and all the others who lobbied in Chicago?s behalf.?Members of the International Olympic Committee also have their own politics which might have gotten in the way.

President Obama?s ability to push through his reform agenda won?t be diminished because the Olympic issue will be quickly forgotten, says CNN analyst Gloria Borger. The same people who are criticizing the president for going to Copenhagen would have attacked him for many other reasons, as they have shown over the past eight months. ??If the president hadn?t gone, they would?ve said he should?ve gone,? says Obama senior adviser David Axelrod. ?That’s just the nature of the business.?

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato adds: ?It?s a classic political hullabaloo that will fade quickly. I think it actually points up a problem the Republicans are having, which is focusing the unhappiness and disagreement they have with Obama. In politics you have to be able to complain about the right things.?

Obviously, the president has been pushing for the overhaul of healthcare and the financial systems, as well as legislation to reduce the impact of climate change. The first two efforts are moving along well and are likely to result in a bill that the president will sign before the end of the year. The third one is a little tough, but Congress will continue to work on it next year if nothing comes of it by December.

In addition,?Obama has intelligently dealt with other pressing issues, like relations with Iran, Russia and the Mideast peace process. As he’s fond of saying, he?s a multitasker.