Overseas in Copenhagen today, the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago (and President Obama's) pitch to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
In his address Obama told IOC members how the U.S. could improve its reputation with the rest of the world in Chicago:
One of the legacies I want to see coming out of Chicago from 2016 is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world and we are putting the full force of the White House and the State Department into making sure that not only is this a successful Games but that visitors from all around the world feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people, Obama said.
I was very impressed with the part of out presentation matching up not families to the athletes that will be there because weve got everyone. This could be a meeting in Chicago, because we look like the world. And over the last several years sometimes that fundamental truth about the United States has been lost. On of the legacies of this Olympic Games would be the restoration of that understanding of what the United States is all about and a recognition of how we are linked to the world.
The President's critics had a field day in blasting the I.O.C.'s selection of Rio de Janeiro over America's Second City, with Rush Limbaugh chortling that it was the worst day of Obama's presidency.
But the argument that he was taking time away from other pressing issues was always a bit of a reach, especially after it was reported that he met up with General Stanley McChrystal aboard Air Force One before returning to Washington.
It reminds me back in the day (actually in 2000, 2001) when former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik tried his quixotic attempt to bring the 2012 games to Tampa. Y'all remember that? Turanchik will be in Orlando today for a ceremony regarding his group's attempts to bring light rail to Florida. Today marks the deadline for the 2nd round of applications for receiving federal stimulus funds for the program.
Looking back at events yesterday, the St. Petersburg City Council deadlocked at 4 votes apiece on whether to vacate the sidewalk of BayWalk, which means that protests will continue in front of the retail complex. Although I didn't make any predictions, I did sense that the vote would be closer than the previous 7-1 tally, when only Wengay Newton dissented. Perhaps it was Jeff Danner's comments in the St. Pete Times Buzz Blog earlier in the week, when he expressed concern about setting a bad precedent, that I thought there could be a few more no votes.
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee voted yesterday to lessen the impact of financial penalties that would be imposed on people who did not get insurance under a new health care plan being negotiated.
As the New York Times reports, it's because what Maine Republican Olympia Snowe wanted:
The obligation should be first and foremost on the United States government to ensure that these plans will be affordable in the marketplace, Ms. Snowe said. It surprises me that we would have these high-level penalties on the average American when we have no certainty about whether or not these plans will be affordable. I just dont understand why theres this impetus to punish people.
Just another issue for the Democrats to have to contend with as they try to make this legislation happen by the end of 2009.