President Obama's trip to Copenhagen to lobby the Olympic Committee is a manifold risk. The small risk is that he fails to bring the games home to Chicago. The bigger risk is that he could lose both time, stature, and political capital in the midst of fierce debates over Afghanistan and health care reform. So what does he have to gain? Conservative pundits have a couple of theories why the president is wagering his agenda.
1. He's Beholden to 'the Illinois Chamber of Commerce,' Jules Crittenden writes. "This idea that you can treat not only your own top agenda items but actual serious national security concerns with less apparent interest than a big, expensive party for your hometown, and think there won't be consequences."
2. Vanity, Plain and Simple At Commentary, Jennifer Rubin says the president is seizing yet another opportunity to put his "vanity on display." But she says his "obsession" with being seen on television can't hide the fact that Obama can't seem to get anything done.
Obama has become omnipresent but ineffectual. He talks about everything but accomplishes virtually nothing. He has a single domestic "achievement"--a failed stimulus plan. His foreign policy is in disarray. Maybe he is everywhere on TV because that's what he knows how to do--with no follow-through, hard decision-making, or consensus-building required. If he didn't do all that TV, he might have to govern.3. Copenhagen Is Just a Stop on the Way to Afghanistan, Bill Kristol writes at The Weekly Standard. "David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel aren't stupid: Expect to see Barack Obama get on the plane after his session with the International Olympics Committee at mid-day Friday Copenhagen time, and be in Afghanistan with our troops five hours later, in time for the evening news Friday here in the U.S."
4. Chicago Already Won, But Obama Wants the Credit, Ramesh Ponnuru writes at The National Review. He argues that the president wouldn't risk such a distraction if he wasn't sure his hometown had already won. "He is taking time away from more important things to go get the credit for bringing the Olympics to Chicago. Does anyone seriously believe that the president would take a quick trip to Copenhagen with the possibility of coming back empty-handed?"