Friday, October 2, 2009

2016 Olympics: more post-mortem

Posted By on 10.02.09 at 12:38 PM

Things that I think are true but can't prove:

* To be a bit of a homer for a minute, if you were skeptical of or against the Olympics, or just wanted an earnest pushback on Olympics Fever, I think it's worth noting that Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke did a remarkable job of driving that sentiment. I put together an archive of their work on the Olympic bid over the past couple years, and reading through it, I can't help but be amazed at how much work they did, and think it was an overwhelmingly important part of the process.

* Not to mention that their reporting on the parking meter fiasco has been Daley's albatross in the months leading up to the decision.

* "Olympic defeat a setback for Obama": Oh, please. He showed up and gave a speech. The decision to give it to Rio may be as simple as the fact that South America has never hosted an Olympics; their presentation also seems to have been the most favored. A "setback" is silliness. Health care and Afghanistan are the setbacks to watch out for.

On the other hand, it's an enormous setback for Michelle Obama ().

* A setback for Daley? That's a much more interesting question. I think the failure to land the Olympics, insofar as you can blame the city's mixed feelings about the event, is actually a setback for the mayor - but it's more a symptom than it will be a cause.

In other words, I doubt anything that went on in Copenhagen was a referendum on his leadership, but the local debate on the games very much was. And I can't imagine Daley doesn't recognize that.

What that will actually mean I can't begin to guess. On one hand, the relative unpopularity of the bid in Chicago combined with ongoing budget problems and his low popularity has to make him nervous. On the other hand, there's no organized political opposition, and the City Council's fealty towards the mayor during the bid process demonstrates his power:

"Robert Fioretti, Scott Waguespack, and Joe Moore, for starters, have all told me the mayor made it clear he would never forgive or forget anyone who came out against the games. He wanted an unblemished vote, and he got it."

Obviously, there are lots of reasons for him to come home and take action - but I'm not convinced there are enough.

Update: I think commenter Dienne at Eric Zorn's blog has a good point here:

"As far as winning, I think he's still a popular mayor. I think people feel he's done a lot of good for the city - the city certainly does look a lot better than it did when I came here in the late 80s. Sure there's corruption and sure Daley's probably up to his armpits in it. But frankly I think that's something that Chicagoans expect and accept - it's not like there's any great shock every time some new investigation/indictment is announced."

The whole comment is worth a read.

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