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The [Tuesday] Papers

Like everyone else, I was absolutely stunned yesterday to learn that the G8 summit we've all been prepping for had been relocated to Camp David. And as much as it was absolute madness to schedule both the G8 and the NATO summit at the same time in the same city in the current Occupy environment - and as much as official proclamations about an economic benefit to hosting the summits were as credible as Rush Limbaugh's views on contraception; and as painful as it was to see city officials yet again seeking validation that they preside over a world-class city; and as depressing as it's been to watch our elected officials rush to erode our civil liberties for the sake of "security," which makes as much sense as practicing fascism in order to protect democracy - I'm really disappointed that our big moment on the stage has been reduced to an Off-Broadway workshop while the marquee production heads elsewhere.

The so-called Chicago Spring promised to be a unique moment in time in which the (global) economic dislocations of the last 30 years would finally be discussed in the open in the presence of the world's most powerful finance ministers at a time when inequality has finally broken into mainstream political discourse and the very future of nations such as Greece is up for grabs amidst epic Wall Street machinations both criminal and immoral that are still unfolding, still perpetuating, and still unaccounted for. Perhaps this would have been the reckoning.

Now that moment, which once seemed so fortuitous, has been marginalized.

The Occupy movement may still hold its Chicago Spring, but it won't be the same. The fact that the world's leaders must hold a meeting in isolation far away from the people they govern - and whose lives they their economic power rules over - is poignant to say the least. I would have preferred it otherwise at this particular moment in time, so a moment could have been had. A moment that might have lasted a month, and whose impact might have lasted far beyond that.

Instead we get NATO, still a target as the military arm of the G8's agenda, but not the G8. If only they had taken NATO from us instead. But they knew better. The Obama administration has found a way to quash the debate and squelch dissent. The recipients of the G8's economic medicine will not have a seat at the table; they - we - are mere soldiers to be sacrificed in a long-running class war that's been waged since the late 70s and early 80s, when conservatives persuaded "us" that greed was good and ostentatious wealth regardless of how accumulated was something to be envied and striven for. Liberals in a position to benefit gave up their resistance quite easily and suddenly the culture was suffused with wealth envy and reality TV shows featuring the superrich (which has had the distorting effect of making the merely rich and simply affluent feel so insufficient that they imagine they are only middle-class, which may explain why our candidates for public office are so determined to campaign on their behalf.)

It was nuts to schedule these summits in Chicago at the same time in the current economic and political environment, but that's what made it so glorious for those of us yearning for real change; those of us with real hope. This could have really been it.

Damn.

Still Game
"The decision by the White House to move the Group of 8 economic summit to Camp David while the NATO summit remains in Chicago might have split the reasons to protest," AP reports. "But it won't diminish the number of protesters - tens of thousands, by some estimates - who plan to come to Chicago for a rally and march to protest everything from war to poverty, said Andy Thayer, a leader of the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism and the Gay Liberation Network and one of the principle planners of the Chicago protests."

I dunno, I just don't think it will be the same.

Hollow Victory
Some Occupiers are claiming victory. I never thought the goal of Occupy, though, was to force the meeting to be held elsewhere. I thought they welcomed the meeting as an opportunity to express themselves and confront and inform. Getting the meeting moved to a secluded spot - if that's what the protesters did - hardly seems like a preferable outcome to me. No one is happier today than the G8 ministers, don't you think?

Spin Bin
The White House initially announced the change in a statement that pretended the event was never even scheduled for Chicago.

"To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues," the statement said, as if such an invitation was being issued for the first time.

A free-flowing discussion couldn't be had in Chicago?

"The President thought Camp David would provide an informal and intimate setting to have a free-flowing discussion with his fellow leaders," another statement said.

What, they need to be able to stroll the grounds? We have plenty of intimate settings here. The White House didn't want to 'fess up and acknowledge that either security issues and/or the prospect of terrible optics in an election year spooked them.

City Hall also acted - at first - as if a Chicago summit never even existed.

"We wish President Obama and the other leaders well at the G8 meeting at Camp David and look forward to hosting the NATO summit in Chicago," Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "Hosting the NATO Summit is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Chicago to the world and the world to Chicago and we are proud to host the 50 heads of state, foreign and defense ministers from the NATO and ISAF countries in our great city May 19-21."

Conspiracy Theory
Of course, one has to wonder if this was the plan all along - a great diversionary tactic. But that theory doesn't seem to hold up. For one thing, I'm told the feds had already moved a virtual armory into town. Big stuff, too.

For another, that's a dangerous game. Think of all the hotel rooms presumably blocked out; all the local events of that weekend already cancelled and/or rescheduled; the businesses that have already bought plywood and the city's security spending (though they can still use the horsey gas masks for any NATO disturbances).

Maybe it was in their back pocket the whole time, but it seems a bridge too far. Most likely the Secret Service just said they couldn't secure the city - or the Obama political team thought better of the consequences if things got out of hand.

Who Knew What When
Was Rahm really in the dark?

"Just [Monday] morning, only six hours before the bombshell announcement, Emanuel was dismissing any concerns about hosting the G8 Summit," Bill Cameron reported.

But the Sun-Times quotes national security spokesperson Caitlan Hayden saying "I'm not going to get into details on dates, etc. But the president began to contemplate this idea a couple of weeks ago in discussions with his aides. He also speaks with Mayor Emanuel regularly, and the president consulted him on this decision."

The Sun-Times also reports that "The Obama administration and the Emanuel administration apparently underestimated the hometown opposition to the summit and the fears of rioting that accompanied it."

That would be known as a disconnect.

Also from the S-T:

"The average Chicagoan never seemed sold on the potential benefits of the summit the way some business and civic leaders were."

I don't know how they figure that. Was there a poll?

More interesting:

"When Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, briefed reporters Jan. 31 about the potential topics of discussion and agreement for the twin G-8 and NATO summits, he had a longer list of potential areas of agreement among leaders at the NATO summit than he did for G-8.

"Washington sources speculated Monday that negotiations with other G-8 counties must not be producing any tangible areas of agreement that would justify moving ahead with the summit in Chicago where it is generating such controversy.

"Obama started contemplating moving this 'a few weeks ago,' Hayden said.

"Asked if it was because of security concerns, Hayden said, 'We have full confidence in Chicago's ability to host both summits and NATO is still being held in Chicago.'"

Crain's reports that "The White House, not City Hall, made the bombshell decision to pull the G8 summit out of Chicago.

"Chicago host committee chief Lori Healey, sources in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office and Washington insiders all said Monday that the surprise decision came from President Barack Obama's inner circle."

Axelrod. Plouffe.

More interesting:

"Chicago had been given relatively little time to prepare for the summits, which sometimes are scheduled years in advance. Mr. Emanuel, rather, sprang the news on the city last June, notably failing to consult with organizers of the huge restaurant show, which was scheduled to meet on the same dates in May and which ended up having to reschedule to earlier in the month.

"Some sources were saying Monday that the city never fully overcame the late start - particularly on the security side, with endless bad headlines here about protests and other woes to come.

"Security folks felt the city was 'overwhelmed,' one congressional source said. Even in the South Loop federal complex, building officials still have not been fully briefed on what to expect and how to prepare."

Best Response
"Really? After all that drama?"

- Ald. Joe Moreno

Obama vs. Rahm
According to the Tribune, "Rahm lobbied Obama" for the summit in the first place. This has always been under a little bit of contention, but I have no reason not to take the Trib's word for it.

But why, Rahm? Really? A chance for you to mingle? To show you're a big dog? Don't give us that world-class baloney. We can't even provide intimate settings!

Hospitality Reality
The Crain's report also notes that "The news of losing the G8 meeting stung downtown restaurants and hotels."

"We're disappointed," said Maria Zec, general manager of the Peninsula Chicago. "We were excited to welcome both the G8 and NATO to Chicago."

She declined to provide the number of G8-related reservations her hotel had booked.

"I'm not sure where we're going to go from here," said John Hogan, chef at downtown steakhouse Keefer's, who worked with the Illinois Restaurant Association on Chicago's Culinary Crossroads, an initiative to draw international attention to the local dining scene during the summits. "We're going to have to reassess."

As part of the program, some 50 Chicago restaurants were creating special tasting menus with the assistance of chefs visiting from the G8 nations.

NATO likes to eat too?

The Political Odds
N8O-fied.

Chicago Metal Rocks
Evidence.

Chicago Golden Glove . . .
. . . Brings Home Silver.

It's A First
Cartoon Network To Air Documentary.

Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
New from Leinie's.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: GR8.



Permalink

Posted on March 6, 2012


MUSIC - The [Monster] Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Tribune To Arsenio, Cubs: Drop Dead.
POLITICS - The Beachwood Radio Hour: Preckwinkle's Guts, Rahm's Cheesecakes & The Navy Pier Polka.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Offseason City. White Sox Report: Beyond The Cell. Cub Factor: Minor Threat.

BOOKS - CPS Chief Caught In Librarian Lie.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: Little Wing.


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