My own sense of things is that if liberals want to complain about the conservative rejoicing about the Olympics... it would help if you actually a) like the Olympics and b) are the sort of "America first" person who thinks we deserve everything just because we're us.
In the short term, I think the decision by President Obama to go and try and cajole the IOC to choose Chicago will do deserved political damage - it was an overconfident, mistaken choice, and the failure to close the deal reflects on him personally - but in the long run, there won't be a story come 2016 about Chicago... but there will be plenty of discussion of the wasteful expense of the Olympics in Rio, and the devastating poverty which remains in Brazil.
The Olympic story used to be a remarkable, one world vision of how we could all get along; that started to fall apart in the eighties, partly due to the Cold War gamesmanship of the US skipping Moscow in 1980 and Russia skipping LA in 1984... but it's also a tale of the rise of corporate interests, the killing of "amateur" sport, and excessive media hype. The idea of an Olympics in Chicago - and we should remember, Bloomberg tried to sell the idea of proposing New York for similar reasons - was not, necessarily, about the idea of universal brotherhood through sport; it was a crass collection of dubious notions that a large scale event of that sort could jump start an economy, create jobs, and make Chicago a world class city (moreso than now). The most compelling alternative all along - Rio di Janeiro - always had the more emotional, reasonable story: the Olympics have never been held in South America, Rio is alrady the kind of city that has broad international appeal, and their economy might, actually, get some long term benefits.
That the Chicago folks - and the White House - willfully ignored those realities, speaks volumes.
But the volumes being spoken reflect one way that Obama is not like other politicians, in a way we rarely discuss: that is, he represents the rise of a real local politician, from a particular place, who retains ties to his community. One of the problems we have, I think, with politics right now is too few people seeing themselves as being of the place they represent, and everything focused on ambition. We often talk about the Senate beinbg full of presidential candidates... but in recent years, the House has been little more than resume filler for potential Senators and Governors... and Governor's chairs little more than seat warming for future runs.
It's not to say that Barack Obama didn't have similar ambitions as a Senator; but the fact that he came from Chicago, and sees himself as of there and of Illinois, never really went away. The Bush family may be living in Texas, and elsewhere... but we know that they are, really, old northeastern money connected, eternally, to Connecticut and Maine. Bill Clinton may be from Arkansas, but he lives in Westchester and commutes to the City, like an old prep (which, given his Harvard and Yale education, he really is), as does Hillary - herself even less connected to a variety of places she'd lived on her way to life in DC. You could go back and on and on... quite possibly the last President from a particular place was Jimmy Carter, and prior to him... I'd guess Lyndon Johnson (though the Johnsons were clearly part of an old world political society in DC, too).
And it's not just Obama - as so many noted after he was elected, he's put in place a staff from Illinois who share is basic bond with Chicago and the local, ward based political operations of an urban political team. That has, yes, some negative implications about personal interests, in realtion to the Olympic bid and business connections (this is where I think Michelle Malkin has backed into some dserious, useful reporting), but it also illuminates, I think, the underlying decision to go to Copenhagen; Obama may have gone their had any US city been in the running... but it was his city, the one he calls home. That matters.
Again, that sense of personal connection, I think, is the short term political liability President Obama has since the bid failed; you can try to argue that a President should back any bid by an American city, and you can argue that every other country's leader went to Copenhagen... but that's not, really why Obama went, or what this meant to him, in personal terms. As such, the political implications are personal ones. The question of where the limits are in his persuasiveness, the question of picking the right time to fight the right battles... these are questions about Obama's political effectiveness that don't go away, because they help us to see him for who he is, and keep in mind that he's human, with failings.
And in the long term, I think that's why this is a political disaster that won't have too many legs... the good things it underlined about Obama - his pride of place, his connection to his home community.... these are American values that do, in fact, speak to all of us, and speak well of us. We should remember the places we come from, the place we call home. When we do that, the political ideas we argue about, and the causes we take up passionately aren't just interesting abstractions... they're the beliefs we hold to, because they help us to understand who we are. If Obama can remember that, and find the words and causes that resonate with the sense of his connections... I think he can still have some lasting impact. I think the hard part is... it's very easy, in his role, to lose those connections, and lose sight of why the things you do matter. I hope he doesn't, even in the face of failing.