Here’s one slant I haven’t heard on the Olympics story: Would Chicago’s bid have had a better chance if the U.S. had sent a Sconnie instead of a FIB to Copenhagen? Seriously, I think it deserves attention, because the way it sounds, the Sconnies are just as mad about the loss as our neighbors to the South.
In an article for Biztimes titled “Chicago’s loss is America’s loss,” Steve Jagler argues the president should never have wagered his reputation on the Olympic bid.
Nevertheless, unlike other critics of the president’s decision, Jagler argues that the bid was actually worth his time, but that because he acted, the loss was that much more painful. He emphasizes the importance by listing a number of community leaders in Milwaukee who voiced enthusiasm for the economic opportunities the games could have brought the surrounding area, including major infrastructure improvements, such as high-speed rail. Scott Walker was especially pumped because the head of the Chicago Olympic effort was a native of Wauwatosa.
Yes, it hurts. What’s especially distressing is how big a role the games could have played in pushing the anti-mass transit curmudgeons to accept a nominal tax increase (if that) for an extremely worthwhile investment in the future. It’s likely that the feds will approve money for high-speed rail, but the Olympic games would have abruptly replaced confidence in an eventual project with certainty in a regional and even national priority.
However, Jagler, like many others who are pushing this meme, doesn’t explain why Obama’s trip to Europe hurt America. Sure the talk radio hosts loved the story, and plenty of partisans will find eagerly jump on the story as a reason to criticize the president, but I’m relatively confident the vast majority of Americans saw what I saw: we tried, but Brazil is sexier than Chicago.
The decision wasn’t a stinging rebuke to Chicago – it was just as likely a ringing endorsement of Rio. Would you have voted for Chi-town if you were a delegate from Finland? There are plenty of practical considerations that go into planning the Olympics – but all the nominees satisfied basic concerns about space, infrastructure etc. Once that’s determined, it comes down to a vote of a bunch of old guys, voting with their gut.