We all knew that Chicago wasn’t about to blame President Obama for their stunning Olympic flop. Instead, the city’s politicians decided to mimic their favorite son’s most cherished rhetorical flourish – Blame Bush. The Sun-Times summarized it by saying that “President Obama could not undo in one year the resentment against America that President Bush and others built up for years.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson demonstrated exquisite message discipline:
“There must be” resentment against America, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, near the stage where he had hoped to give a victory speech in Daley Center Plaza. “The way we [refused to sign] the Kyoto Treaty, we misled the world into Iraq. The world had a very bad taste in its mouth about us. But there was such a turnaround after last November. The world now feels better about America and about Americans. That’s why I thought the president’s going was the deal-maker.”
State Rep. Susana Mendoza was a bit more muddled. At first, she felt like lashing out at the IOC like they were a bunch of right-wing nutcases, calling the vote “political and mean-spirited.” But once she realized that they probably supported universal health care and cap-and-trade legislation, she changed her tune to one more confused than outraged:
“I travel a lot. … I thought we had really turned a corner with the election of President Obama. People are so much more welcoming of Americans now. But this isn’t the people of those countries. This is the leaders still living with outdated impressions of Americans.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, on the other hand, showed her Washington polish by wielding a nameless “consul” as her cudgel against the Bushian stench that still poisons the world’s opinion of America:
“He said … he was hearing that there wasn’t enough time for Barack Obama to dispel the old image. … But I don’t know if that’s it.”
But the White House realized that while this line of attack has its benefits, distracting the blame as it does from the President himself, it also means that the President hasn’t brought hope and change to the world, and that he’s not had a meaningful impact on America’s international standing. We can’t have that, so cue Robert Gibbs:
“No, I think you saw both at the U.N. General Assembly, you saw at the G20 last week … I think virtually every measure of our standing in the world is different than it was just this time last year. So I don’t read too much of that into this.”
Don’t worry, Gibbs – give yourself a good night’s sleep and I’m sure you’ll find a way to make this all Bush’s fault without suggesting that your boss is weak and ineffectual. I just have no interest in helping you do it.
UPDATE: In case you doubted that this was a coordinated line, Sen. Roland Burris also took the time to blame Bush for Chicago’s Olympic’s vote.