Competing but failed titles for this piece included: "Why Five Guys in Oslo don’t know much of anything" and "We could just call it the 'He’s not George W. Bush' Prize"
David Brooks remarked in a brief segment on NPR today that he found it outrageous that Obama had won only the Nobel Peace Prize, when he had given speeches on physics and economics as well. I agree, and would add that given that the President had terrible poetry read at his inauguration, perhaps he deserves the Prize for Literature also.
In all seriousness (as hard as it is to get serious with a topic like this), why does the President deserve this prize? Ten months into George W. Bush’s third term, what has he accomplished in the way of peace?
1. The Mideastern peace process is, at best, stalled. President Bush was the first president who ever spoke of a “two-state” solution. This President continues that line, gives a speech in which he insists that there be no new settlements, which Bibi Netanyahu promptly ignores. So much for the power of speeches. And where is the peace? Has the road to peace even been re-mapped and re-affirmed?
2. Obama has continued G.W. Bush’s policies of torture and rendition. Gitmo may be “closed” but new secret prisons have been opened in undisclosed locations all around the world. “Enemy combatant” has been banished and has been replaced with the Newspeak phrase “prolonged detention.” What peace is achieved in torture?
3. Obama has also continued, nay, escalated Bush’s War in Afghanistan, burial place of empires. To what peace?
4. Obama’s escalation of drone-powered bombings of Pakistani civilians has killed more of these innocents in nine months than were killed in all of 2008. Again, Obama surpassing the “high-water” marks of the Bush years. Killing civilians – peace?
Let’s call this what it is: Europe’s bailout to the flagging popularity of “their” president, as they start to perceive that the zeitgeist here in America reflects that we less and less consider him “our” messiah. Charity doth cover a multitude of sins, but do we really believe that an award from five men in Oslo will cover the mediocre thus-far results of this presidency? A failed and failing health-care reform? A unaccountable debt-ridden bailout for banksters with no recovery in sight? A failed Olympic bid? Obama needs a win, and the Europeans delivered one to him for those who don’t know better.
Yet, in the tenor of George Bush’s third term, Obama hubristically accepted the Nobel Prize instead of refusing it, as he should have, by deferring to those who have actually achieved rather than those who have only spoken. Growing up as children, we are taught to treasure prizes as the result of hard work and dedication. In accepting the award, Obama refused an opportunity to re-teach that lesson to our children: awards are for what you do, not for what you say.
Sorry Europe: the award for “Thank God you’re not George Bush” is nine months late, and several euros short. Oh, and pointless. Non, merci.
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