John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Going to Copenhagen

Posted on September 29, 2009
Going to Copenhagen

I want Chicago to get the Olympics.

Growing up, my dad used to tell me that Chicago is the greatest city in the world. And except for the crime, the political corruption, the bad traffic and the winter weather, my dad was right. Chicago is the greatest city in the world.

That being said, I have to wonder about President Obama’s thought-process when it comes to his decision to travel to Copenhagen to lobby the International Olympics Committee to give Chicago the Olympics in 2016.

Last week, he said he was too busy to make the trip and that he was sending his wife. And with the Senate Finance Committee debating health care, with the world waiting for his decision on Afghanistan, with Iran blasting missiles into the desert to show their defiance, with the Israelis planning to blast Iran’s nuclear program, with the jobs situation deteriorating, and with the President’s legislative agenda floundering, he was right.

He is too busy to make this trip.

Of course, he wasn’t too busy to do David Letterman last week. And he wasn’t too busy to appear on five Sunday talk shows. He wasn’t too busy to appear on 60 Minutes again. But he was too busy to make the trip to Denmark.

And then he wasn’t too busy. He changed his mind.

Why did he change his mind? Did Oprah need a ride on Air Force One? Did da Mayor of Chicago call in a chit? Did he just feel the need to feel some international love? Did he get the assurance that if he went, Chicago would get it, no problem? Or was he threatened that if he didn’t go, Chicago would get screwed?

Things didn’t all of sudden get less busy for the President. Those pressing things that kept him from going last week are still pressing (if not more so). So, why did he change his mind?

We may never know the answer to that question.

But this decision gives us a glimpse into how the Obama White House works. They are making it up as they go along. They change their mind at a moment’s notice. They seem to have no consistent strategy. At times, they look unserious. They don’t plan for the long-term. And they blow with the wind.

He says that he isn’t going to go to Copenhagen, and then he says he will. He says he is too busy. Then he shows that he is not busy enough.

He is inconsistent, and inconsistency in a President can be dangerous.

We see that with Afghanistan. He campaigned on the idea that the war in Afghanistan is the good war. He says that this is the battle that we have to win. And then when his generals say that they need more troops to win the war that he said we have to win, he says “hold on there, buster. We need a new strategy.”

He campaigned on closing Gitmo. And then when the deadline approaches to close Gitmo, his folks say, “hold on there, buster. We can’t close Gitmo yet.”

He campaigned on the idea that John McCain was going to raise taxes on so-called Cadillac health care plans. He absolutely skewered McCain on that issue, running millions of dollars of advertisements against the Republican nominee. Guess what? His people are now saying that the McCain “tax” is one of the best ways to pay for health care reform.

I was all for the President going to Copenhagen to lobby for the Chicago Olympics. But when the President last week said he was too busy to go to Copenhagen, I believed him. He is still just as busy, but for some reason, he changed his mind.

That’s weird.

His shoot from hip decision-making process is going to hurt him in the long run. His last-minute decision to go to Copenhagen is just one further sign of trouble to come, I fear.