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No hard feelings over Copenhagen: Obama sends B team Biden to Canada's Vancouver Olympics

Democrat vice president Joe Biden boarding Air Force Two for somewhere

Not that there's any hard feelings in the Obama White House toward the International Olympic Committee.

All the international conglomerate of elderly delegates did was allow Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama to fly the 4,000 miles from Washington to Copenhagen last fall to pitch the 2016 Summer Olympics bid by Chicago and listen politely to the glamorous couple and then unceremoniously dump the Windy City on the opening vote before the first pair even got home.

That's not the Chicago way. Not how things usually go for Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Democratic political machine that is unaccustomed to losing and totally accustomed to getting however many votes it needs for whatever it wants from wherever it can, dead or alive.

This machine that allowed Obama to thrive as long as he made no local waves has run everything in Chicago for longeVancouver Canada 2010 Winter Olympics logor than most of those Olympic geezers have been alive. Good thing the IOC won't be needing any building permits, health inspections or garbage pickups there anytime soon.

It might encounter some real problems. If you catch our drift.

As one result of that civic rejection, the American president, who could fly up to Boston on a moment's notice in a hopeless bid to salvage one U.S. Senate race, cannot possibly fit into his impossibly important schedule a visit to the IOC's 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics to send off hundreds of U.S. athletes.

The Winter Games open this week a few miles north of Washington state. Just too far to go and too much to do changing the way Washington works, you understand. So that it's more Chicago-like.

So Obama is sending in the second string for Friday's opening ceremonies, Delaware's Joe "I Rode Amtrak for Years Without a Crash" Biden.

Of course, to avoid wasting any trip, after a Wednesday evening fundraiser in Washington on his way to represent the United States in Vancouver, Biden will squeeze in a fundraiser for Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray.

And for the closing ceremonies, it's even worse. The White House is dispatching whatever string Homeland Security Secy. Janet "The System Worked" Napolitano is.

Too bad.

The Obamas will miss out on seeing arguably North America's most beautiful city. And their absence will be taken quietly as another snub by the United States' closest, friendliest, most important neighbor -- or neighbour, if you're reading this north of the border.

This is Canada's biggest moment on the world stage in years. And its partner in the world's largest bilateral economic relationship sends in the same gaffe-prone gabber who was assigned the secondary chore of briefing Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Obama's Afghan surge speech last fall.

While the Main Man briefed the world's really important leaders himself.

For all that, the judges would probably give the administration a 1.2.

(UPDATE, Feb. 11`: Here is the president's complete announced Friday schedule, as provided by the White House, that is so crammed he was unable to attend the Olympic opening: "In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing, the Economic Daily Briefing, and meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office. These meetings are closed press."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Getty Images (file).

Comments () | Archives (24)

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Our teleprompters are safe now, we can relax, have a laugh or two at, sorry with Biden and show Janet how to run a security operation.

Enjoy the games.

I have to say I rather agree, though I think your comments are a bit harsh. Still, I would certainly expect the President to make some kind of appearance at the Olympics, especially when it is so very close to home! I find it disappointing, though not quite so vehemently angering.

True colors showing more every day...

I live in Canada, and honestly, nobody cares if Obama comes.

Give me a bleeding break...North America's most beautiful city!

I think San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago...and many others might have a thing or two to say about that. I've seen Vancover, and it ain't in the same league as those I mentioned above. Nice try.

(Did you see the word "arguably" there? Vancouver isn't in those US cities' league because it's in its own league. Thanks for joining the argument.)

Oh fer crying out loud! I am GLAD to see Obama stay home and tend to business for a change. I'm CERTAIN that most Americans feel the same way. If he DID go to Vancouver, I'm sure he'd catch flack for junketing off on international holidays every ten seconds, and frankly, given his track record to date, he would deserve it. (He might, however consider sending Malia and Sasha to Vancouver - in Biden's charge, and at Obama's expense - to catch part of the event; that's what I'd do in his position.)

I think President Obama has more important things on his plate at the moment that running to Canada for an Olympic photo op.

I wonder if Ms Napolitano will undergo a full-body cavity search to demonstrate how seriously Canada takes security concerns?

But seriously, I'm not offended as a Canadian, but maybe the VP could bring some video discs of the President's TV appearances recorded in European format to distribute to American athletes to make up for the President not seeing them off?

I do enjoy the non-reverential approach to this administration that you show. It provides such a good counter against the worshipful, apparently uncritical tone of most of the Times' coverage. Yes, this administration is certainly clueless about how to treat our long-time friends! However, if you're a threat to our friends, well, we'll just bend over backwards to accommodate your threatening behavior and comments.
Thanks for writing as you do, Mr. Malcolm.

who wants an empty suit at a party, Biden at least will provide comic relief and money and carbon will be saved by not having telepromters flown transported.

Obama can't win. If he went to the Olympics he would be accused of leaving the country to have fun while millions of Americans are unemployed.

(Don't think that argument holds. That didn't seem to bother him last fall with the long Asia trip and two trips to Copenhagen and then Oslo.)

At least Joe gets to see Vancouver! Obama's loss.

Seeing how O jinxed the Colts, maybe it's better he doesn't show.

Nobody in Canada really cares.

President Obama is an embarrassement to our nation. The list is legion regarding all the people he has slighted since his administration took over: Pres. Bush, Rush , Fox News, the Supreme Court, the Chamber of Commerce, the Insurance companies, the banks, Wall Street executives, doctors, the Republican Party, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, President Sarkozy of France, PM Merkel of Germany, retarded people, the king of Norway, the Dali Lahma (several months ago), the C.I.A., the citizens of New York City and thereabouts, all of cable news, people who make a certain amount of money, ... The list goes on and on.

He's a divider, not a uniter. He's also a misfit. Too bad our constitution has no provision for ineptitude. Hence, most of us in America will suffer. Thanks Barack!

Its good news really for Vancouver, it will save a tremendous amount in the already huge security budget.

In all honesty, I won't miss him. As most folks have already commented, he is a misfit/empty suit/disappointment/embarrassment ect.

He really should stay home and earn his pay. Besides, I'm sure he can find another trillion dollars or so that needs to be spent on some more 'social justice' somewhere or other.

And as another person noted, it will save us a heap of cash on security.

Not sure how much I care, though if this means that Obama doesn't like hockey, that's him demoted in my books.

Mind you, if he's really not coming because of the Chicago thing, how silly is that? Maybe he'll stay at home and pout...

Sending Napolitano isn't a snub, it's a slap in the face...this is the same woman who thinks Canada is such a danger to American security, we need to have the same border security as Mexico, who thinks we need Blackhawk helicopters and Predator drones, because all that uninhabited forest and prairie in clearly just as big a security thread as illegal immigration and the drug war. Maybe Obama should use the time not attending the Olympics to find a Homeland Security Secetary who has a clue.

Here's our chance to run Napolitano through the body scanner and publish the pictures! That's not an invasion of privacy is it?

...teddybear52 said
"The list is legion regarding all the people he has slighted since his administration took over: Pres. Bush, Rush , Fox News, the Supreme Court, etc..."

Obama slighted Rush! Close the border! Turn off the oil! Shut down the power lines! meant Rush Limbaugh???!! sorry. my bad... PS I like Joe Biden. He can come up anytime.

I'm Canadian, but lived in US and EU for years as well. Yeah, we're always under-respected. Not saying we need to be worshiped :) but we are USA's #1 trading partner (way bigger than China), #1 source of Oil (no crazy wars to get it), and we were there in Afghanistan the whole time since 2001, we supply the US with tons and tons of wicked talent as our education system rocks and higher salaries (bigger pyramid) in the US drains our best talent ... And by the way, CDN Forces special reaction force 'saved' a big chunk of Haiti, set up and airport, had planes landing yada yada - I think before anyone - and CNN could even be bothered to mention it, instead showing Anderson Cooper saving black kids. What a hero.

Ha ha ha ... the comment below of the people that Obama has' 'slighted', the commenter listed 'Rush' up there with 'Pres. Bush' ... a ha ha ha that is sooooo funny. Rush Limbaugh the big fat blowhard? That's like saying the president 'slighted' ex-Pres Bush and Simon Cowell. God forbid, Simon Cowell? Ha ha ha...

Canadians DO care if Obama comes or not, just not that that much. I'm not sure if we like him, or we just loathed Bush so much that we'd like anybody to take his place. Kennedy, Johnson, (not Nixon), Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. (kind of), Clinton? We liked them. Bush was a total disaster.

awesome article.. thanks for the fine read.

No one in Canada cares??? Well than why did it care that Bush visited Mexico before visiting Canada if it doesn't care? Please you can't have it both eays, and instead of doing so many interviews it would be nice if Obama showed up to the Olympics to support the athletes and international coopderation.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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