9/22/2009

The Rock Star and a Hard Place


I heard a Chicago television reporter this week refer to U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama as an “international rock star”. This was not overheard at a Starbuck’s. She said it live, on the air.

Her gushing characterization came during a segment explaining why leaders of Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games are hanging on a thread of hope. They are said to be hoping Obama, for whom Chicago is an adopted hometown, will travel to Copenhagen ahead of the International Olympic Committee’s decisive 2016 vote on Oct. 2. So far, he hasn’t decided what to do. The IOC must choose between four cities — Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janiero and Tokyo — then sit back and pray they’ve done the right thing seven years from now.

Chicago’s campaign team and, by extension, the public continue to view Obama as an earthly God who can enter a room and change the course of history by reading scripted words. Essentially, they are employing the logic of a crack cocaine addict. Just one more fix, man, and we can make the world right. If Obama shows up in Denmark, it’s game, set, match for Mayor Richard Daley’s All-Star Team. Never mind that Chicago’s bid is technically sound — in some areas superior — and is led by a widely regarded business icon, Patrick Ryan, and a famous mayor (Daley).

This Obama obsession prevails even though the former junior Senator from Illinois has not managed to end Washington gridlock or turn a massive U.S. economic tanker clear of jagged shores. He keeps reading the scripted words and rolling out his transformational agendas but the only tangible result is that more than 50% of the nation disapproves of his job performance.

The accidental President (by virtue of being an accidental Illinois Senator) is emerging, not as a Great Messiah, but as the reckless force behind an economic tsunami that threatens the influence and reputation of the United States. That’s why I am dumbfounded by those who insist Obama is Chicago’s trump card in its pursuit of the 2016 Games.

To believe he can be a game changer just by showing up is to demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of the IOC’s membership, and there has been precious little reporting by Chicago mainstream media that answers the question, “Who are these guys?”

The membership of the IOC is more than 54 percent European, along with roughly 22 percent North and Latin Americans (including just two U.S. members) and 19 percent Asians.

The people who decide where the Olympic Games go are a conflicted lot, to say the least. Many are U.S.-educated professionals who returned to Socialist, even Communist, homelands, using their intellect, family names and political savvy to secure lives of wealth and influence. The most powerful patriarch within the global Olympic movement is Spain’s Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC Honorary President for Life. He once was an operative in the brutal monarchy of Gen. Francisco Franco (and son Juan Jr. is now an IOC member/voter). The current President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge, is a surgeon from Belgium, a heavily unionized nation under a constitutional monarchy.

Additionally, more than a few IOC voters from Africa, Asia and Latin America have risen through the ranks of deeply rooted, tyrannical/dictatorial political systems, enriching themselves in societies where the world’s material and monetary spoils are not accessible to the masses, and where sports administrators wield great power.

Loyalties among IOC members are wildly fractured, which often causes balloting for Olympic host cities to be skewed by block voting and side deals having nothing to do with the merits of the candidates, or their elected political celebrities. If you don’t believe it, research the circumstances under which Lillehammer (Norway) won host city rights to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, or Sochi (Russia) the 2014 Winter Games.

While the American Entitlement Class remains drunk on Obama Kool-Aid, cheering as Newsweek declares we’re “all Socialists now”, do not be too sure that IOC members will be enamored of a United States flirting with hope and transformational change.

The dirty little secret among IOC voters is that the privately financed, Capitalism fueled 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games saved the Olympic movement from financial collapse. Does anyone think IOC members voted to put the 1996 Games in Atlanta because they were turned on by the Coca-Cola museum, CNN Center or obsolete Fulton County Stadium? The Games were here in 1996 for the same reason they were in Salt Lake City in 2002. Free market capitalism and multinational U.S. corporations with deep pockets (not to mention General Electric’s National Broadcasting Company and the hundreds of million of dollars it has paid for U.S. broadcast rights) work wonders on the IOC’s bottom line. Plus, when the Games are here, IOC members have an excuse to squeeze in a visit to the Mayo Clinic, or Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, or Cedars Sinai Medical Center, or any number of other beacons of America’s envied private health care system.

So, then, can anyone truly articulate the upside to a live Barack Obama pitch in Copenhagen? By 2016, this nation might well be a severely diminished Obamerica. Will it still be the go-to venue for the Olympic Games? Will these United States that IOC members rely on to prop up their increasingly irrelevant global sports event still be an economic superpower with world-class military and security personnel to protect the athletes and visiting dignitaries?

If Chicago really believes it needs an international rock star to prevail in next month’s voting maybe it should think about finding one that has memorized the words and sings from the heart.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Um, the Salt Lake City bid was pretty notorious for corrupt payments to IOC members.

Personally, I think it would be a bad idea for Obama to stick his nose into the Olympic bid process.

Johnny Keynes said...

Politically, it is a dicey thing for Mr. Hopeenchange. I would guess that his indecision is based on not having a very good handle on where the IOC is leaning at the moment. Putting himself personally behind the bid and losing it would certainly take off a layer of that Teflon coating he seems to have. However, if he were to make the pitch and Chicago got the games, he and Biden would most certainly use this for the next 3 years as evidence of the administration's influence on the international stage as they run up to the 2012 presidential contest. Hmmmm....what to do....what to do.