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Hope-enhagen: The Politics of the Bid

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 30, 2009 6:20PM

It's not a big secret (at least in Chicago) who stands to win if the city gets to host the 2016 Summer Games. Billions of dollars in construction contracts, the real estate transactions, and the concession agreements will be up for grabs. And that's just the official, big dollar stuff. But what if Chicago doesn't get the Olympics? Who stands to lose? Aside from the political implications for Mayor Daley (and if you listen carefully, you can hear the knives being sharpened, just in case), President Barack Obama has certainly raised the stakes by heading to Denmark to lobby for his hometown.

Pundits are speculating on the implications of Obama's trip and Chicago losing the bid. With the president juggling a difficult economy, health care reform and a difficult war in Afghanistan, he risks losing some of his prestige if the bid goes to Rio. “You’re darned if you do, and you’re darned if you don’t,” first lady Michelle Obama told reporters Monday. “I’d rather be on the side of doing it, and I think that’s how the president feels. This is not one of those where you worry about what happens if not.” And Doug Muzzio of Baruch College in New York says that "Clearly you stake your prestige, a little bit of your prestige and your political capital on this, and if you don’t get it, you’ve lost that political capital.”

While pundits speculate on the fallout if Chicago doesn't get to host the Games, prominent Republicans are already taking shots at Obama, calling his trip a "distraction." Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said that while it was "noble for the president to pitch his home city, Chi-town," he should be focusing on job creation in the here and now. "At a time of war, at a time of recession ... I think this trip is nice but not necessary for the president. The goal should be creating job opportunities not seven years from now, but job opportunities today," Steele said. And while Mitt Romney said that Obama is right to go, Chicago native and GOP strategist John Feehery says that criticisms of the trip are justified. "He's taking a bunch of Chicago cronies on an all expense paid trip to Copenhagen for just one reason, to get the Olympics," Feehery said. "For me it makes him seem unserious and look slightly desperate." And conservative conservative internet muckraker Matt Drudge stepped into the fray at the Drudge Report, posting a link to a report of the school beating last week in Chicago, titled "Olympic Spirit."