An Olympic moment

Give President Obama credit for one thing: He knows how to cheer on the home team.

        The president was in Denmark Friday, like the rest of us awaiting word on whether his hometown Chicago would be chosen to host the 2016 Olympics. Obama’s appearance to lobby the International Olympic Committee was the first by a sitting American president.

        Critics chided the trip as wasteful and a distraction from his many issues at home. We disagree. Obama is representing his country’s interests by making this trip. It significantly boosts the odds that the Olympic torch — a bonanza in terms of economic activity and national prestige — will return to U.S. soil.

        Obama is making a 24-hour investment that could return a $22.5 billion jackpot. That is the dollar figure that boosters of a Chicago bid predict the Olympics would generate in terms of economic activity. Here in Michigan, we ought to take notice: Visitors to the 2016 games could well visit our state, and Michigan residents could be put to work pouring concrete or paving roads in advance of a potential Olympics.

        Yes, the president has a full plate. It once was unthinkable for the leader of the free world to go begging before the stuffed shirts who select cities for the Olympics. But things have changed. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown personally lobbied for the 2012 Olympics to come to London, and leaders of other would-be host cities also are in Denmark.

        They lack the influence and, frankly, star power, that our president possesses. So, we believe Obama made the right decision, one with a huge upside. He was right to go for the gold.