Obama's Real Olympic Risk

He'll be attached to every scandal

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Oct 2, 2009  |  Updated 2:47 PM CDT
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Obama Takes a Stab at the Olympic Bid

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Republicans and other critics of President Obama are trying to score some points over his decision to go to Copenhagen to pitch his hometown's Olympic Games bid amidst the war in Afghanistan and the fight for health care reform.

Nonsense.

There's nothing wrong with a multitasking president taking a working trip to do a little bit of schmoozing - even if Obama's judgement on the value of the Games is way off.

No, the real political danger for Obama lies in the next seven years of unfolding corruption and embarrassing bungles if Chicago gets the Games and behaves like, well, Chicago.

With Obama's highly visible blessing at home and his prestige lent abroad, these Games become Obama's Games if they go to Chicago.

After all, he's been called the X-Factor all along.

Should Chicago get the bid, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs should plan now for how he'll respond to the daily hammering of every mis-spent penny, ill-considered contract and inevitable indictments ahead.

And it won't just be Obama under the gun. Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod . . . the whole Daley gang now operating out of the White House will foot the fault.

Prepare for this oppositional battle cry: 

"If they can't put on an Olympics, how can they [fill in the blank]?!"

Of course, no one can put on an Olympics - at least not without massive cost overruns. It's built into the process. The Olympics are not a rational economic development tool; they are not designed to make money - unless you are an insider - despite the script each host city uses.

And that will become Obama's headache for as long as he is in office if the Games go to Chicago with the assistance of his guiding hand.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

Check out NBCChicago's full coverage of the Olympic Bid here.

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