Sunday, October 11, 2009

Obama's Ignoble Peace Prize

An honor is an honor, except when it is unearned. Then, as James Taranto observed, it subjects you to ridicule. Link here.

When you are awarded a prize you have not earned, the assumption is that the committee has made a mistake... they have mistaken you for someone else.

The rule applies to President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize and explains why it has touched off so much discomfort in his supporters.

New Republic editor Peter Beinart said it well: "I like Barack Obama as much as the next liberal, but this is a farce. He's done nothing to deserve the prize." Link here.

True enough, but since when is the basic issue about a president how much we like him?

Somewhat less liberal columnist Mickey Kaus advised Obama to reject the prize, and notable Obama supporter Christopher Buckley even offered Obama a possible rejection speech. Link here.

More cleverly, Tom Friedman penned an acceptance speech that would turn the tables on the Norwegian politicians who have managed to make the Nobel Peace Prize into a farce. Link here.

In Friedman's speech Obama would tell the assembled Norwegian potentates that the greatest force for peace in the world is the American military. It has liberated Europe from oppression and has been instrumental in keeping the peace in Europe for more than three score years.

Friedman would like to see Obama remind the pretentious and self-important Europeans that they are living in an American military protectorate. Remember the last time America was not around to protect Norway? The country that gave us Quisling has now degraded the Nobel prize.

Of course, he is assuming-- and I hope he is right-- that all of the Europeans who were liberated by World War II were happy to escape the yoke of Naziism. Sometimes I am not so sure.

I would be thrilled to see Obama deliver Friedman's speech. I would be impressed to see Obama deliver Buckley's speech.

But we all know that that is not going to happen. And not just because of diplomatic protocol. It would require a nobility of character that Obama simply does not possess.

As most everyone knows by now, Obama is being honored for his unfortunate habit of apologizing for America. He is being honored for repudiating American military successes.

Friedman's speech could easily have been given by John McCain. Whatever you think of McCain on the issues, he was honorable and noble to a fault. And he was always comfortable defending the glorious tradition of the American military.

Similarly, you might imagine McCain having the requisite humility to deliver the speech Christopher Buckley wrote, especially if he believed that he was being an honor he did not deserve.

But if these pundits believe that Obama could have delivered their speeches, shouldn't we ask them whom they thought they were supporting in the last election?

If Obama's thin resume and his lack of substantive achievements do not qualify him to win the Nobel Peace Prize, then how could these pundits imagine that he was qualified to be President of the United States.

If the Nobel Peace Prize committee voted for Obama based on gauzy visions of hope, the American people made him president for exactly the same reason. If it looks like a farce coming out of the Norwegian parliament, how does it look coming from American ballot boxes?

The fact is, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize all you have to do is give a speech. For that Obama is supremely qualified. To fulfill the duties of the office of the president of the United States you should be able to do much more.

Perhaps these pundits are beginning to feel the first blush of buyer's remorse. With apologies to Hamlet: they project too much, methinks.

As Lee Siegel put it: "Obama warned us long ago, in his first memoir, that part of his success was due to the fact that people projected their own emotions onto him, as though onto a blank screen." Link here.

Of course, this means that Obama is therapist-in chief. The concept of the "blank screen" comes from psychoanalysis. There the mute, invisible analyst is supposed to be a blank screen onto which patients project their fantasies and emotions.

But surely Siegel is fooling himself. No political candidate can ever be a blank screen, a completely unknown quantity. More likely the pundits who are projecting certain characteristics on Obama are trying one last time to rationalize their support for someone whose presidency is nothing like they imagined.

Because if Obama does not turn out to be a blank screen, but comes to resemble the radical leftist his detractors have seen, then these pundits will have some serious 'splaining to do.

No comments: