Conservatives have been bashing President Obama for the past week over his decision to personally go to Copenhagen to boost America’s pitch for the 2016 Olympics. When the International Olympics Committee eliminated Chicago in the first round, those same conservatives were euphoric. Today on Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard — whose headquarters erupted in “cheers” when America lost — said that Obama’s decision to go to Copenhagen was an example of George W. Bush-like bullying:
KRISTOL: Our economy doesn’t need the boost of the Olympics. And then an American president in sort of a George W. Bush-like way goes and tries to bully the International Olympic Committee. [...]
Come walk with us. I’m here for America. Can you imagine if some Republican — if Bush had done this and we hadn’t gotten it? Typical Bush heavy-handedness, cowboy unilateralist, hegemonic imperialist action. Obama falls into that trap and they went for it. I must say you couldn’t help be amused by it.
First of all, Kristol was a big fan of the Bush administration’s policies, so it’s not clear why he wouldn’t like Obama going to Copenhagen. But more importantly, Obama’s trip was not a “hegemonic imperialist action.” Brazil, Spain, and Japan — the other three 2016 finalists — all sent their country’s leaders to Copenhagen, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out on NBC’s Meet the Press today. Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks said that he was proud Obama had “put his country ahead of his own personal prestige”:
MADDOW: In 2012, London got the Olympics after Blair tried for them. In 2014, Russia got them after Putin tried for them, and in 2016, all four finalists sent their head of government or head of state to make the argument. Obama did nothing unreasonable, and it would have been a shock if Chicago won. For them to be cheering America’s loss here on the right, I think is sort of disgusting. [...]
BROOKS: Nonetheless, I have to say, I’m with Obama on this. He took a risk, he comes away somewhat humiliated, but he took a risk for his town, he took a risk for his country, he put his country ahead of his own personal prestige, and he lost one. I actually don’t mind it. I think he was all right on this.
E.J. Dionne added that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential slogan was “Country First,” but “in this case, it was Obama-hatred first on the right, not the country.” Watch it: