As President Obama cautioned GOP candidates that he, not they, serves as commander-in-chief, city officials in Chicago grew noticeably mum Tuesday, about the President’s decision to pull the upcoming G8 Summit from Chicago, for the more serene and isolated confines of Camp David.
Noting the increased sabre-rattling from the campaign trail, the President suggested a need to tone down the rhetoric.
“What’s said on the campaign trail, you know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities,” he said. “They’re not commander in chief.”
“When I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war,” he said. “This is not a game. And there’s nothing casual about it.”
The President said his decision to move the meeting of the G8 leaders to Camp David was based on the fact that he had never hosted them there, and the informality of the setting. But he insisted that decision had nothing to do with Chicago’s ability to provide security.
“We’re still going to be showing up with a whole bunch of world leaders,” he said. “We’ve got this NATO summit.”
“I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues.”
City officials in Chicago were stunningly silent about the decision. A promised press conference from the host committee became a promise of one-on-one interviews for reporters covering the summit. But the interviews were abruptly cancelled Tuesday afternoon.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was travelling in New York, and requests to interview police superintendent Garry McCarthy were refused.
But if the city itself was reticent to talk about the G8 decision, others seemed to breathe an almost audible sigh of relief. Alderman Robert Fioretti, whose ward encompasses much of the downtown business district, said he for one, was “not disappointed” to see the summit go away.
“What I heard from the businesses over the last several days, I heard from the constituents, and the residents, a lot of residents were leaving town,” Fioretti said. “And a lot of businesses were closing up during that time.”
The alderman said he was still concerned about costs.
“You have to factor the expenditures with the revenue that was going to come in, and I think it was on the negative side here.”
One anti-summit group which had already been granted a demonstration permit, said they would alter that application to target the remaining NATO event. With that in mind, the chief of the city’s Building Owners and Managers Association, said he sent a message to all of his members, cautioning them not to change plans about fortifying their buildings against the likelihood of violent demonstrations.
“This changes nothing as far as our preperations are concerned,” said Michael Cornicelli. His message to his members? “Don’t change anything. If you were on course toward preparation before, there’s no reason to alter that now.”