Subbing for Keith Olbermann on Monday night's Countdown on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell made the case for Barack Obama dropping in to Copenhagen to sell Chicago as a site for the Olympics in 2016. First, note how O'Donnell drastically twists MRC chairman Brent Bozell's allegedly "crazy" words in commenting on Obama's elevated sense of his own persuasive powers:
O’DONNELL: Still, there are those who sense something rotten in the state of Denmark, like Brent Bozell of the conservative Media Research Center, who managed to weave narcissism and wife-beating into his criticism of the president`s decision.
BRENT BOZELL (From Fox & Friends): This is evidence that this man just cannot stay away from the klieg lights.... In a way, it`s a bit of a slap, certainly not intended -- but it is a bit of a slap at Michelle Obama.
O’DONNELL: Joining me now is "Chicago Tribune" editorial board member and Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist, Clarence Page. Thanks for joining us, Clarence.
CLARENCE PAGE: Thank you for having me.
O’DONNELL: Now, there is more serious criticism out there than the crazy Bozell stuff about President Obama leaving Thursday night. He will be back Friday. You know, there are people saying doesn`t he have enough to do already as president. Do you think, Clarence, that there`s any chance that when we look back on health care reform in 2009, we`ll be saying, gee, the president shouldn`t have gone to Copenhagen?
PAGE: I think there`s very little chance of that, Lawrence. I`m happy to hear Brent Bozell is so concerned about Michelle Obama`s feelings. But, in fact, the trip is, like you say, about 24 hours. Obama`s going to sleep on Air Force One. He is supposed to spend all of five hours on the ground, I suspect for the sake of a five-minute photo-op with the other competing world leaders who are going to be there. That`s really what this is all about.
O’DONNELL: Clarence, why do I get the feeling that this thing is wired ahead of time? There`s something about Chicago politicians -- something about Chicago politicians being involved? You know, Tony Blair started this by going to Singapore in 2005 to make his meeting.Vladimir Putin went to Guatemala City to make his pleading. I just can`t imagine Vladimir Putin going to make that trip without knowing ahead of time that if he showed up, he was going to get it. Isn`t that what we’re looking at here? Is that --
PAGE: Yeah. I find it hard to imagine that President Obama would be making this trip without being pretty sure he`s gotten some inside word that, hey, you know, the IOC, the Olympic Committee, is just right on the fence here. And if you show up in person, you can seal the deal.
You know, other world leaders are going to be there. And Michelle Obama, as charming and effective as she is, what kind of a photo-op would that be with the other, you know, chief executives and we`ve got the First Lady there? It`s hard to present the FLOTUS when everybody’s looking for the POTUS. That`s kind of what you’ve got here.
The Olympic Committee is a fickle bunch. They like to be -- kind of like TV talk show hosts, present company excepted, of course, Lawrence. But those who don`t show up as guests can wind up being targets of commentary. And that`s the way the Olympic Committee tends to operate.
So, I think Obama, on behalf of his country and his hometown, is pretty smart to make this trip.
Really? Did it end up looking "pretty smart"? Wasn't Obama willing to risk international embarrassment due to the flock of network journalists who flooded the airwaves with tributes to his "Obama effect"? O'Donnell quickly alluded to the nightmare scenario of Obama's Jedi mind-trick abilities being rejected:
O’DONNELL: Well, if all the Chicago politicians involved here do not have this thing wired, and if the president somehow loses, if he`s flying home having lost to the president of Brazil –
PAGE: Perish the thought.
O’DONNELL: – how is that going to look this weekend? There is a risk in that. That could look pretty ridiculous.
PAGE: Lawrence, remember Richard Nixon`s statement about the presidential race. There are no silver medals in this race. There are no silver medals when you`re going after the Olympics. You either get it or you don’t. And I think if President Obama didn`t get the gold here, he would suffer the agony of defeat from his critics back here and his international standing. One can only imagine, you know, what kind of beating that might take as far as his image is concerned.