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It seems President Obama finally decided it wasn't such a great idea to hold an economic summit in his hometown during an election year when people are taking to the streets to protest the various messes around them.
Either that or he remembered that Maryland is really nice in mid-May.
In short, the G8 summit once planned for Chicago will instead be held at Camp David.
"To facilitate a free-flowing discussion with our close G-8 partners, the President is inviting his fellow G-8 leaders to Camp David on May 18-19 for the G-8 Summit, which will address a broad range of economic, political and security issues," the White House announced this afternoon. "The President will then welcome NATO allies and partners to his hometown of Chicago for the NATO Summit on May 20-21."
Maybe I'm reading English here, but that sounds like the president concluded it would be harder to have a "free-flowing discussion" in Chicago—yet still wanted to throw Rahm Emanuel a bone. NATO summits don't generally excite people as much as meetings of the most powerful money guys in the world.
To be fair, there's a chance this doesn't have anything to do with thousands of demonstrators planning to descend on the city, or cops and elected officials worried about the lack of preparations to this point, or the untold other questions surrounding Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to host the summits. But not much of one.
There's an even smaller chance that we will get a straight explanation of what happened, though it's already clear that to Mayor Emanuel, this was a big fucking bummer.
Not even a carefully crafted statement from the City Hall press machine could conceal his disappointment: "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. Hosting the NATO Summit is a tremendous opportunity to showcase Chicago to the world and the world to Chicago."
So far, aldermen haven't been briefed. "Do you think this administration tells us anything?" says Second Ward alderman Robert Fioretti, who for months has been wary of Emanuel's behind-the-scenes summit planning.
Another skeptical alderman, Leslie Hairston of the Fifth Ward, says she only knows what's been reported in the media. "That's where I generally find my news about the city."
Still, if you're one of those Chicagoans thanking the gods of election-year politics, I wouldn't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. This doesn't mean city taxpayers won't have to cough up any money to host the NATO summit. The various protest groups—including those in Chicago—are likely to proceed with their plans, and police will have to be on high alert. But the feds have not yet provided the city with any money for security, and we'll almost certainly be eligible for much less assistance with the G8 out of the way.
"I think there needs to be a series of meetings and Q&As to find out exactly what this all means," Hairston says.