"Age of Obama" - A KGO Radio Show and an Olympic Controversy!

Mark and KGO's John Rothman.JPG

(San Francisco, California)

What a night it was on KGO Radio! Host John Rothman invited me to do an hour about my book, "Age of Obama: A Reporter's Journey with Clinton, McCain and Obama in the Making of the President 2008."

We talked a lot about campaigns past, present and future until midnight, and then John asked me to stay an extra hour to talk about the Obama Olympic controversy.

I'd like to know your thoughts. Was the President right or wrong to fly overseas and make a last minute pitch for Chicago, which ultimately wound up in last place?

Here are some of my observations:

-The President was in one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations. Critics lambasted him for going, but many of those same critics would have attacked him had he not gone and fought for the games to be in Chicago. The only way to win, was to actually get the games.

-The President does have a habit of getting distracted from his own agenda. This is the third time that a major controversy has erupted while the President has tried to pass health care reform. Not staying on message hurts his own cause.

-While overseas, the President met face to face with the General running the war in Afghanistan. This was wise, given the possibility of a large troop surge there. In other words, the President was smart to conduct business beyond the Olympic bid. Air Force One is a "flying White House" where a President can perform all of his duties as if he was in the Oval Office. All modern Presidents have come under fire for how they use this plane, but it's just one of the perks of the job. (By the way the book, "Air Force One" by Kenneth Walsh is a must read on the subject).

-The Olympics are supposed to be about sports, but are heavily political and this can be a mine field for any world leader. Many still criticize President Jimmy Carter for not fielding a U.S. Olympic team in Russia in 1980 and few would forget Adolf Hilter getting his nose rubbed in the dirt by Jesse Owens in 1936. Leaders have to walk a fine line when interjecting themselves in the Olympics, because it can backfire.

-Some people are reading too much into Chicago's rejection, by saying it's a sign of anti-U.S. sentiments around the world. That's mere speculation. No one on the committee has stated that. Rio may have received the games for simply having the best bid, and by making the case that South America has never hosted an Olympic games. That could have been the deciding reason, with no intended slap at Chicago.

It was a real treat to be on with John Rothman (photo above). I have been a big fan for years. He is one of the foremost experts on U.S. Presidents and appears every year on the Ronn Owens Show with all kinds of trivia. He is a walking White House encyclopedia!

Please post your comments below!


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