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Globe Editorial

Obama: President or pitchman?

October 2, 2009

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Acting as if he were head of the Chicago chamber of commerce, not the leader of the United States, President Obama is traveling hat in hand to meet with the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen today. He’s pushing for his hometown to host the 2016 Games. In case the judges aren’t dazzled by him and his wife, Michelle, he’s got Oprah Winfrey to help seal the deal. Chicago has much to gain from the Olympics, and no doubt all Americans would love to see the Games on US soil. Obama may help deliver the prize. But he risks diminishing the prestige of his office by mobilizing it behind this narrow cause. And it seems at least possible that some judges will feel so put off by his hard sell that they’ll opt for one of the other finalists.

Obama gained support during the presidential campaign by staying cool amid an economic meltdown, while John McCain marched into Washington in an attempt to show a spirit of action. Instead, McCain showed his futility. Americans don’t like to see their leaders appearing rash or weak. If the Olympic committee rejects the president, Obama becomes just another failed salesman. It’s a mistake for him to sink so much into a cause that may not even need his help. He should have stayed home.

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