Friday, October 2, 2009

Blending Olympic and Presidential Seals

So, did you hear about the one about the 4 international cities – Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and Chicago – that each put up a bid to host the 2016 Olympics?

Oh, you did, huh?

Interesting story out of Copenhagen, Denmark today. The International Olympic Committee went through its series of secret ballots to determine the host country of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. While not as mysterious as a papal election, an Olympic vote is every bit as much shrouded in intrigue, suspense, and secrecy. Delegates gather their votes in blocs (all of Africa voting for the same country, for example) and vote in rounds, with the lowest vote getter eliminated after each round until a single survivor remains standing.

The real intrigue begins after the first round. An entirely new election is held for each subsequent round. A country could vote for one city in Round 1, then, even if the city they voted for originally is still in the running, vote for any of the three remaining in Round 2. Blocs and alliances are built, and double-crosses are played, all in the protective enclave of a secret ballot.

Now, there was a better story in the good old days – and, by the good old days, I mean just a decade ago. Used to be votes were plied the good old fashioned way – bribery. Sure, there was the usual – and very boring, I might add – cash and gifts. Better yet were the storied, sordid forays into the debauchery of steak and lobster, scotch and cigars, and strippers and hookers. Nobody parties like an IOC representative, save maybe hair metal rockers from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the bozos in Salt Lake City; who, as we know, are a bit inexperienced in hosting raunchy parties; got caught with their pants down with the whole bribery thing and ruined a good party for everyone. Never would have happened from a Las Vegas Olympic Organizing Committee, I’m telling you that now.

So, in the absence of strippers and hookers, scotch and cigars, steak and lobster, and cash and gifts, the big story of this Olympic voting process was the primping and pimping of the Obamas, President Barack and First Lady Michelle. In the midst of a national debate on health care and the economic recovery, the Prez went to Norway to sell the IOC on the relative merits of his adopted hometown Chicago.

By all accounts, the Obamas were a hit – some in the media described them as “rock stars.” Yeah, that’s what I want. I want the President of the United States (POTUS), not that long ago universally described as “the most powerful person in the world,” degraded to the level of a celebritard signer. You know what’s going to happen if Bret Michaels gets wind of all this, don’t you? I can see his candidacy speech on VH1 now, followed by a new episode of “Daisy of Love.”

Rio, today’s winner, is a good choice for the Olympics – in its history, the Olympics have never been held in South America. Hey, it’s not just going to be samba, boat drinks, and topless beaches, although all of that sounds great. Imagine the fun of watching Usain Bolt try to sprint away from a mugger on the streets of Rio. Or, the Brazilian police supplying the javelin throwers with equipment from their “let’s make the homeless children problem disappear” arsenal. But, if it hadn’t been Rio, I would have had no quarrel with any of the cities being named host.

I do have just a bit of a problem with the President working delegates for votes like a truck-stop waitress slinging hash looking for a wrinkly Washington so she doesn’t have to double-shift at the strip bar for baby formula money.

There’s supposed to be dignity in the Office of the President. Naturally, I mean after it was steam-cleaned after the whole Monica Lewinsky thing. We’re not supposed to cheapen the man (okay, okay, Hillary - or woman, someday) and his message – our message – by using the platform for anything less than the highest of public priorities. What’s next? Can we expect Obama to hit the trail for votes for some dim-witted, gorgeously hot bimbo on the next season of American Idol (quick word to Kelli Pickler – call me)? Will we start to see sponsorship of press conferences and speeches – “This segment of the State of the Union address is brought to you by Budweiser, the King of Beers?” Will Air Force One sport Home Depot sponsorship, making it an airborne version of Joey Logano’s racecar?

Interesting deficit reducers, mind you.

Some might describe Obama’s Olympic campaign as the ultimate in pork barrel spending, benefiting Chicago to the detriment of the greater United States. Collectively, we’ve hosted the Olympic Games recently – 1980 (Lake Placid), 1984 (Los Angeles), 1996 (Atlanta), and 2002 (the aforementioned Salt Lake City). Let someone else deal with the hassle and the incredibly large security bill – anyone take a look at Greece’s post Olympic financial situation lately?

As for you, Prez, we have slightly more pressing issues than committing to spending billions of dollars on hosting a two-week party. Enough with the pimping, time now for governing and leading. Losing was good – your charisma and charm couldn’t carry this day. Hopefully it humbled you a bit too, because if you haven’t noticed the polls recently, the post-G.W. honeymoon is coming to a close, and your charisma and charm aren’t likely to carry the day domestically much further.

Of course, I might be wrong - that’s just this guy’s opinion.

Tweet me up @RayHartjen.

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