Tuesday, October 06, 2009

It's the Power, Stupid

Pat Lang, of Sic Semper Tyrannis, posted the following observation about Obama going to Copenhagen to win the 2016 Olympics for Chicago (my emphasis):

"In making his pitch, the president had said that a nation shaped by the people of the world "wants a chance to inspire it once more." Never before had a U.S. president made such an in-person appeal, and Obama's critics will doubtlessly see the vote as a sign of his political shortcomings.

"I urge you to choose Chicago," Obama told members of the International Olympics Committee, many of whom he later mingled with as some snapped photos of him on their cell phones.

"And if you do — if we walk this path together — then I promise you this: The city of Chicago and the United States of America will make the world proud," the president said." Yahoonews.
$50 million dollars in costs sunk seeking the games and a great deal of private money to be made if they had the games. Those were the stakes. For that possible gain, the prestige of an already diminished president was wagered, and lost.

What we have learned from this is that the president is not his own man. His first inclination was to send his wife to appeal for the prize. That would have been wise.

Now we know that the Chicago money that drove his campaign is still very much in the driver's seat.

That is bad news. pl

Lang's analysis manages to cut to the heart of the problem Chris Bowers frets over, providing a political perspective (contra a policy perspective) on the problem. Interestingly enough, it also touches on Paul Krugman's concern in yesterday's column about misunderestimating the gambits being run by the Movement Conservatives.

The pithy response from Col. Lang cuts in two ways.

First, he talks about why the prestige and power of the Presidency was misused. Obama was called upon to play the huckster for parochial financial interests. He went to a high profile event for the sake of Chicago business interests. He went to obtain money for the private sector in a very crude way when the chief popular criticism of his adminsitration is that they are cosseting the monied class. It reinforces the perception that Obama is merely the bag man for financial elites. The US did need to have a significant presence in Copenhagen to bargain for the Olympics if only for appearance's sake, but the wider financial advantages of the games are questionable.

The second point is more subtle. A president's political capital is the perception that he can deliver on promises, whether to harm or to help, and this capital is not apportioned by type. By that I mean that a president can't wall off political weaknesses; a failure in one venue has repercussions for others. What Obama traded away for the sake of some crony capitalism was his efficacy in every scenario where he has to offer a credible promise. Small events reverberate when dropped into the Right Wing noise machine, and this sets the agenda for how to frame perceptions.

The currency of politics is power. Power is the ability to deliver. Failure to deliver reduces power.

Obama has yet to intimidate his opponents or reassure his contituents that he can deliver. The smackdown, the goods, neither are in evidence. This single event, the failed bid for the Olympics, cannot be viewed politically in isolation from events, like the dissing Obama received from one of his own generals, for example. It has nothing to do with hope, change, mad consensus building skillz, or bipartisanship.

It's the power, stupid.



alibe said...

This defeat also shows how a lapdog media has allowed this young and inexperienced President to be blindsided by his arrogance and naivete. If the media had been doing its job, he would not have felt empowered to take on such a foolish task. 0bama has been so coddled that he knows no bounds. Just like Bush...There is no truth to power. And as a result, no power. Squandered foolishly...on a fools errand. Obama, will never be able to learn the ropes. He is to busy believing in his greatness to see the mess he is in and the mess he has made. This will probably be the time that people will refer to when they understand the disaster that is 0bama.

Koshem Bos said...

It's the fault of the comfy middle class that Obama was elected and Hillary. The fact that he doesn't understand power is little surprise from a guy who equated talk with deeds and vision.

Falstaff said...

Great post, Anglachel -- and great, great comment, Alice. This line -- "There is no truth to power. And as a result, no power" -- is the most poetically distilled, meaning-packed capture of the relationship between those in power and those not that I can remember having read.

Joyce L. Arnold said...

I have a feeling we'll have another 3 1/2 years under a Power who relies on feedback from those who got him in the Power position -- the Party Power hierarchy, a significant segment of media and blogs, and of course, people with the money. If there's a learning curve, it's not yet visible.

Anonymous said...

In the "proper" left-wing forums, criticizing Obama's trip to Denmark is considered "cheering against America."

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - Samuel Johnson

Anne said...

The US did need to have a significant presence in Copenhagen to bargain for the Olympics if only for appearance's sake, but the wider financial advantages of the games are questionable.

Well if you are looking at non criminal activity, yes ,Olympics, like World Fair's are financial sink holes and not so great for the places they are held.

But seen as a graft money laundering boondoggle honey pot...which is how those connected Chicagoans who backed Obama and wanted the Olympics saw it; then it's a great cover for all kinds of financial looting and chicanery. IMO, they would not have pursued it so eagerly otherwise.

Alas( for them) , it's now a dream deferred. These folks are not used to the undercarriage of a bus. But it's where all who run with Barry wind up...no matter their station.