Posted by: Rick | Monday, October 12, 2009

Nobel Baloney

Barack Obama gracefully acknowledged on Friday that he didn’t think he deserved a Nobel Prize, and 99% of the world has already moved on.

But today Ross Douthat of The New York Times is proudly sporting his “One Percenter” patch:

Here was an opportunity [for Obama] to cut himself free, in a stroke, from the baggage that’s weighed his presidency down — the implausible expectations, the utopian dreams, the messianic hoo-ha. . . .

Here was a chance to establish himself, definitively, as an American president — too self-confident to accept an unearned accolade, and too instinctively democratic to go along with European humbug.

He didn’t take it. Instead, he took the Nobel Peace Prize.  [Emphasis added]

I didn’t vote for Obama (read why here), but I’ve always thought of him as an “American president”. . . though I’ll admit I haven’t seen his birth certificate. . . .

Hmmmm . . . maybe the wingnuts are on to something here . . . maybe the outwardly unassuming Norwegians are actually Obama’s sinister international case officers. . . maybe he is a Manchurian candidate!

Douthat goes on to imply that if Obama had refused the honor, his critics might decide to take the high road from now on:

At the same time, the prize leaves Obama more open to ridicule.  It confirms, as a defining narrative of his presidency, the gap between his supporters’ cloud-cuckoo-land expectations and the inevitable disappointments of reality.  It dovetails perfectly with the recent “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which he was depicted boasting about a year’s worth of nonaccomplishments.  And it revives and ratifies John McCain’s only successful campaign gambit — his portrayal of Obama as “the world’s biggest celebrity,” famous more for being famous than for any concrete political accomplishment.

I don’t recall McCain’s “celebrity” tactic as being all that successful (the old line about “the tallest midget in the circus” comes to mind.)  But one thing’s for sure: Republicans are going to keep riding that pony no matter how many prizes Obama rejects.

Barack Obama has handled this mildly awkward situation quite well.  He didn’t need to create an international incident just so he could cower before the American right wing.



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