Obviously, Barack Obama had a bad day in Copenhagen today with the failure of Chicago’s bid for the Olympics. Of course, many Chicagoans were mixed. (I was negative for a variety of reasons including the inability of the South Side, where I lived for 8 years, to handle the infrastructural requirements)
But it is worth pointing out that this story will not go away. In two months, Obama will be heading back to Copenhagen for another failure, the UN Climate Conference. He will be going to Copenhagen empty handed, with no climate change bill to show. Indeed, the top story right now at the official site notes that “the honeymoon appears to be over” and compares Obama to former President George W. Bush. Indeed The Economist echoes this language, in a story dated yesterday entitled “The honeymoon between Europe and Barack Obama’s America is over.”
European Union politicians and officials are dismayed that, with a poisonous debate over health reform chewing up his political capital in Congress, Mr Obama may not secure legislation fixing binding emissions targets for America before the climate-change summit in Copenhagen in December. They also think the health-care impasse explains the lack of progress on the Doha world-trade talks. Nor did Europeans enjoy the G20 meeting that Mr Obama hosted in Pittsburgh. Despite hogging a ludicrous number of seats at the table, the EU came away with only one big Europe-specific agreement: alas, for them, it was a plan to cut their voting power at the IMF.
Today, we saw that Obama’s international celebrity is not matched by his international clout. And this message is going to get nailed home with issue after issue, whether it is Afghanistan, the next Copenhagen meeting, or whatever else happens.
It must be tough having to live with a persona and a rhetoric that has nothing to do with reality.