A reader makes a good point, and articulates one of the reasons I figured Chicago’s bid was a sure thing:
There’s actually something worrisome about this whole Chicago fiasco, and it goes back to President Obama’s inexperience. Diplomacy 101 tells us that your head of state only shows up on the high-profile stage when a deal is complete. The lesson that most politicians learn well before they gain positions of power is that diplomacy is done by diplomats, professionals who work through all the negotiations and the hardball tactics and the carrot/stick combinations. The principals in the matter gather to discuss high-level topics and to smile for the cameras as the agreement is being signed. Heads of state do not conduct diplomacy, they ratify it, and surprises are entirely unwelcome at those summits and signing events (hence Reagan’s anger in Iceland.)
Why were you and Ramesh surprised? Because you thought that President Obama at least knew this very basic lesson. Today’s announcement suggests that he does not, and it just got advertised big-time to countries who already were pretty sure we had a rookie at the helm who didn’t know how to use international power. President Obama just got upstaged by an organization against whom no retaliation is acceptable, and he wants to meet with the Iranians next month? We are in deep, deep trouble.