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By Jay Cost

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The Olympics, Obama, and the Permanent Campaign

Chicago has lost its Olympics bid, despite Obama's insertion into the process. People are shocked because they figured that Obama would fly in if and only if the deal was done.

But why? That assumes a typical allocation of the presidential prestige. President Obama has been anything but typical in the use of that asset. Let's remember that this is the President who in the last nine months has appeared on both 11:30 PM talk shows. This is the President who can be seen on TBS in a spot advertising the upcoming George Lopez Show. This is the President who has had more primetime news conferences and more joint addresses to Congress than any president up to this point in his campaign tenure. This is the only President to pull a "Ginsberg" (and my guess is that he'll set the record for that when it's all said and done). This is the President who has gone out on the campaign trail again and again and again, even though the election is long since passed. This is the President who puts himself - and his family - on the cover of all sorts of supermarket and newsstand magazines month after month. This is the President who never hesitates to inject himself into the public consciousness for any little reason he likes.

This is the permanent campiagn. We have talked about its imminence for years. Well, now it's here and this is what it looks like. This is what a President does in it. Previous Presidents would only put themselves out there in this kind of diplomatic situation if there was no more campaigning, lobbying, and cajoling to be done. But this President sees himself above all as the chief campaigner, lobbyist, and cajoler. That explains so many of the ways in which the Obama Presidency differs from previous administrations (Democratic and Republican alike), and it also explains why we should not be so shocked by this result. This particular campaign failed.

I, for one, am exhausted by our new permanent campaign. That might sound strange coming from somebody who runs the Horse Race Blog, but it is true. The ominpresence of the Obama campaign apparatus is, frankly, wearing me down. I can't get away from him or it, even in my down times. Watching the Office on TBS used to be a real pleasure for me and the missus, but now we must be interrupted by the President of the United States cracking lame jokes at us in the promotion of a second-rate comedian. There is no escape.

It's not simply because enough is enough, though that is part of it. It's also because he is different now. He holds the executive authority of the United States within his person at this moment, and it is sobering to see the holder of such vast power on the cover of a magazine urging us to follow his fitness regime. By continuing the permanent campaign into his tenure so thoroughly, he has given new meaning to the phrase "big government." When he is on the cover of Men's Health telling us how to work out, in a certain sense, the federal government's executive authority is on the cover of Men's Health telling us how to work out.

And so it continues today. What should have been a story about Chicago - or better yet, Rio (good for you, Rio!) - is now a story about...Obama. Of course. Because just about everything in the public sphere must, must become a story about Obama. Because Obama injects himself and his campaign appartus/mindset/worldview into everything. And so, in this case, what would otherwise have been a "mere" rejection of Chicago and Mayor Daley has now become a rejection of the entire country. Why? Because of his decision to perpetuate the permanent campaign while holding the power of the executive.

I was hesitant to place a bet on the outcome of the health care debates, but I'll place one here. Sooner or later, the American people are going to say, "Enough is enough" with this constant, incessant politicking that is inevitably built around the specialness of Barack Obama. This is not the way past presidents have behaved, and I believe for good reason: the old way is the way the people like it. If this President continues to inject himself into every little thing - such as he did with this Olympian blunder - at some point he is going to exhaust the country, thereby losing the goodwill of his fellow citizens that he still enjoys today.

Mr. Obama: please remember that you're just the President. It's a big deal, but it's not that big of a deal. Chester Arthur was President. For goodness sake, Warren Harding was President, and his share of the vote was much larger than yours. Thomas Jefferson's tombstone doesn't even mention his eight years as President. Your current office isn't discussed until Article TWO of the Constitution. Take the hint, and tone it down!

-Jay Cost