In 2005, Peggy and I flew into Madrid. We don't speak Spanish and the taxi driver from the airport spoke no English. We handed him the address of our downtown hotel. He studied it and was obviously puzzled. The driver entered the address into his GPS system, but he still could not figure out where we were going.
This is not about whether the Obamas were smart or dumb to go to Copenhagen, Denmark, and pitch Chicago as the 2016 Olympic site.
No question, they should have gone, joining King Juan Carlos of Spain, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
President Obama was damned by the Republicans for going and mocked by the Republicans for not closing the deal. But he would have been more severely damned and mocked—and blamed—had he not gone and the U.S. lost out.
What’s more, the president was gone for one day, and he is a fair multitasker. Last I heard, Air Force One has a telephone and video conferencing systems onboard, so he didn't have to relinquish the presidency to Joe Biden while he was aloft. In addition, he tended to foreign policy by having a 15-minute meeting with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, chief U.S. honcho in the Afghanistan war.
The real embarrassment was Chicago being eliminated on the first ballot with a pathetic 18 votes out of 94.
I got the clue the following Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Paris has Venus De Milo; Florence has Michelangelo’s David; New York has the Statue of Liberty; Copenhagen has the Little Mermaid; Brussels has Manneken Pis—a fat naked little boy proudly relieving himself in a fountain. Now London is going Brussels one better by placing giant billboards throughout Belgium—in Antwerp, Brussels, Liege and Ghent. The image is a grown male skinhead in jeans—with a big red cross painted on his bare back—creating a great arching stream as he proudly relieves himself into a teacup atop a small, round Hepplewhite table a few feet away. The purpose of the billboards is to promote Eurostar’s new