RNC: President Obama "Ignored" Afghanistan To Make Bid For Olympics

October 02, 2009 6:03 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Now that Chicago has lost its bid to host the 2016 Olympics, some conservatives are openly cheering President Obama's failure to secure the games for his hometown.  Apparently, many on the right are overjoyed that Brazil, rather than America, will reap the economic benefits of playing host to the world. 

For his part, RNC Chairman Michael Steele -- who had criticized Obama's efforts to lobby the International Olympic Committee (IOC), although he refused to call Obama's trip to Copenhagen a "mistake" -- rubbed it in carefully.  In a statement, Steele suggested that Obama needs to "refocus his efforts" on more important issues; the implication, of course, being that the president wasn't focused on them before. 

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, who had been preparing for Obama to lose, was only too pleased to rub it in, though he did it in a careful way.

"While I am disappointed with the IOC's decision, I look forward to the president returning stateside so that he can refocus his efforts on the growing unemployment crisis that was highlighted by today's monthly jobs report," he said in a statement. "Our country needs the president's undivided attention on the urgent issues facing American families today: rising unemployment, soaring health care costs, winning the war in Afghanistan and dealing with Iran's nuclear threat."

Separately, the Republican National Committee issued a "research briefing" with headlines like "Obama Prioritizes Chicago Olympics Bid Over War In Afghanistan" and "Weighing His Priorities, Obama Chose To Spend His Time on Olympics Bid."

Additionally, the RNC's "research" document alleges that Obama has been "ignoring" Afghanistan in order to focus on Chicago's Olympic bid.  But, in reality, we're talking about a pitch to the IOC that lasted less than nine minutes.  Obama was only gone for about 15 hours, during which he also met with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, on Air Force One.

While Republicans may not like it, we now have a president who carefully considers the ramifications of sending Americans into battle.  Even Gen. McChrystal, who's pushing for more troops in Afghanistan, recently said, "The process of going through a very detailed policy level debate is incredibly important and incredibly healthy."

Moreover, when it comes to presidents not giving their "undivided attention" to the nation's problems, it should be noted that George W. Bush spent a whopping 490 days of his presidency at his ranch in Crawford, TX -- which, if you believe the president is unable to do his job from outside the White House, could help explain why Obama inherited such a mess in Afghanistan in the first place. 

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