In about the time it takes an Olympic marathon runner to complete two races, President Barack Obama was in and out of Copenhagen, Denmark on Friday.
The purpose of this international equivalent of a "quickie" was to convince the International Olympics Committee to choose Chicago as the host to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. It is no surprise to anyone with experience in the department of "not-even-one-night-stands" that this effort was futile and inevitably resulted in regret and embarrassment for the Obama administration, the city of Chicago and the United States as a whole.
A round-trip plane ride from Washington, D.C. to Copenhagen takes 16 hours. Exactly how much jet fuel Air Force One consumes on a flight of that duration and how much money that ultimately costs taxpayers varies - but any way the numbers are run, the amount is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why should we squander that much money when Obama spent only four hours in Copenhagen?
If that wound isn't painful enough for American citizens, add in a second chunk of money and fossil fuel to cover Michelle Obama's completely separate trip to and from Denmark. I'm really glad college students here at Geneseo are struggling to scrounge together enough money to buy graham crackers at Walmart and bothering to recycle printer paper while our president is making totally unnecessary plane rides to Europe. Way to set an example, Mr. President.
White House officials told CNN that they "had little choice but to raise the stakes, given that the other competitors all were sending their heads of state to Copenhagen."
Since when has "everyone else is doing it" been a valid reason for anything? Also, Michelle Obama, a competent and personable diplomat, made it clear that she was prepared to fight for Chicago independently of her husband.
The biggest embarrassment in this quest for American Olympic domination lies in the fact that Chicago did not even come close to winning the bid. Out of the four final nominated cities, Chicago was eliminated first (a fact that Obama did not learn until he was on the plane home).
It is fairly common knowledge that the IOC is an unpredictable institution and White House senior advisor David Axelrod admits that the IOC's "internal currents" were too strong to counter Obama's appearance. If Axelrod knew that ahead of time, why even bother?
More important than convoluted IOC politics and wasted tax dollars, however, is the blatant fact that Obama abandoned his work on serious national issues to support Chicago in Copenhagen. The Olympic Games originated in Greece during a prosperous, peaceful time period that inspired athletic enthusiasm and allowed for plenty of free time to be devoted to recreation.
The U.S. is one bad day away from economic collapse, is at war and is struggling to keep American citizens from dying outside hospital doors because they lack the money and insurance to be allowed inside. The nation is simply not stable enough to support a positive Olympic experience.