Friday, October 2, 2009

Obama, the Olympics, and conservative criticisms

The 2016 Olympics have been decided; Rio de Janeiro is the selected site. Despite Barack Obama personally going to Copenhagen, Denmark, to lobby on behalf of the city of Chicago, the Olympic committee went another direction.

Obama had received unwarranted criticism earlier in the week for traveling to Denmark. Taking a day and a half trip overseas, to some, was in bad taste, especially with the health care debate still going strong and the situation in Afghanistan needing his attention.

Those critics, however, ignore several key things.

First, Obama took less than two days to get his two cents in to the Olympic committee. When looking at how many vacation days George W. Bush took, Obama has been working overtime by comparison.

Second, Obama didn't use this trip as "time off" -- he took this opportunity to meet with his top commander in Afghanistan to discuss strategy there. When Bush was on vacation, he didn't even bother reading important documents, such as the report that detailed how bin Laden was determined to attack America just weeks before the September 11 attacks.

Finally, had Chicago won the bid to host the Olympics, the boom to the economy in the Midwest would have been enormous. Construction projects and other employment opportunities could have reached as far as Madison. Millions, if not billions, of dollars could have been made in hosting the games.

Now, I don't bring up George W. Bush to re-hash old wounds; I merely want to point out that conservatives didn't have these same criticisms for him while he was on vacation (and he was on vacation a lot). Obama takes two days to go overseas to push for an Olympic event in America, during which he meets with a top military commander, and you'd think (by some accounts from conservatives) that he was abandoning his duties as president.

Those duties, conservatives often forget, include fulfilling his role as Head of State. In recent years, heads of state have lobbied for the Olympic games on their countries' behalf, and the other cities up for the 2016 games had their leaders do so, too. Had Obama not gone, we very well could be hearing criticism on that from conservatives now, with them blaming Obama for not lobbying for Chicago and thus being responsible for losing the bid.

As a political scientist from Drake University puts it, "If they knew what brand of toothpaste he uses, they'd be against it." The conservatives in this country are going against Obama over every issue he pushes for, simply because they want to defeat him politically. It's a shame, and hopefully the American people will see through it.

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