President should have listened to the strategist on Olympics

Chicago and the Olympics weren’t a great mix from the start — sort of like holding an international gathering of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Guinness St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin.

The grifters and graft merchants of the Windy City couldn’t have helped themselves and the results wouldn’t have been pretty. As a lover of the Olympics, I am disappointed. Perhaps we can nominate a less problematic locale for 2020 than Chicago and New York have proven to be in the past two rounds.

The aftermath of President Barack Obama’s pratfall has been interesting to watch. The first-round knockout was so embarrassing that even the Beltway’s cadre of professional friends of the powerful were eager to telegraph that they were out of the loop and without influence on this one.

Paul Begala, who is beginning to make Brutus look like a paragon of loyalty, rushed to Politico’s Josh Gerstein to reaffirm to the world that he had warned the president not to go.

When the media’s merchants of inside scoop are looking for opportunities to broadcast how little their advice matters, you know the smashup was pretty bad.

The obvious question: If the president cannot persuade the International Olympic Committee — which is, after all, merely corrupt — to go his way, how will he persuade Iran’s mullahs, who are both corrupt and fanatical, to give up their nukes?

Answer: He won’t, but the legacy media will be able to cover for his failure in that far more significant arena.

The legacy media will now fill up with explanations of how this isn’t so bad. “As someone who publicly counseled against the president making this trip, I still admire the guts he showed in taking it,” the quotable Democratic strategist Begala said as he set up his final word on the fiasco. “This is a stumble, not a fall.”

My wild guess is that the first lady is not so nonchalant about being dragged into her first big failure as an international figure. Michelle Obama has had a nearly flawless run since last November’s triumph, but she sounded bad in heading off to defeat.

This is a one-week story and a lifetime anecdote, the sort of pundit cliche that will surface again and again, as in, “This reminds me of when President Obama rushed off to Copenhagen even as his plate filled with tough decisions on the war and his health care agenda was bogging down.”

Or, “In retrospect, the gaps in the skills sets of Obama’s first team were revealed when a poorly prepared and overconfident Obama jetted off to Europe to knock off what he thought would be an easy win and came back looking like the loser Chicago was.”

And every time he hears reference made to Friday’s events, Obama will have to run through the list of the people who set him up and let him down. The only thing we know for sure is that it wasn’t Begala, who is much too smart to have fallen into such an obvious trap. 

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