Obama’s ‘October Surprise’
My, what a difference a month makes. That’s right, this past Friday marked exactly one month since Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled those two “spontaneous” words during a Joint Session of Congress in response to President Obama’s claim that his healthcare plan wouldn’t cover illegal immigrants.
President Obama has come a long way from “You Lie!” to being named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient!
Reaction around the world and in the media was certainly mixed with many feeling that this honor was bestowed way too soon – just eight months into his Presidency. In fact, the nomination application deadline for the prize was February 1, just 11 days after Obama took office. We don’t know who nominated him either and we won’t know a long time. They don’t release that information for 50 years.
The White House was clearly caught off guard. During remarks in the Rose Garden, even President Obama indicated that he felt he wasn’t quite yet deserving of the award:
I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. … To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize — men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
The Nobel Committee evidently chose Obama based on what they hoped he might accomplish instead of what he has already achieved – as if the president didn’t already have enough pressure to tackle what’s currently on his plate.
Let’s take a quick look back. No doubt that the president has had a rough few weeks including his failed attempt to bring the 2016 Olympics to his hometown of Chicago after flying to Copenhagen to personally make the case. That prompted the Drudge Report (and others) to run with this headline: “The Ego Has Landed!”
Some have criticized conservatives for “celebrating” the loss, calling them unpatriotic. However, I don’t think their reaction was rooted in anti-Americanism but rather it was political opportunity that had the GOP reveling in his agony of defeat.
According to Gallup, Obama’s approval numbers have fallen to 51% and Republicans are beginning to emerge from their political malaise. For example, there are real opportunities to win two 2009 gubernatorial races traditionally held by Democrats (Virginia and New Jersey) and take back a sizable chunk of House and Senate seats in 2010.
Liberal attempts to characterize the president’s opponents as “crazy, racist, rightwing nut jobs” don’t seem to be sticking leaving those at the White House and the DNC concerned that Obama’s star is starting to fade — and quickly.
After all, the country is facing grave challenges in the midst of an economic crisis, increased unemployment numbers, troubled healthcare reform proposals, growing nuclear threats in Iran, missle testing in North Korea and escalating attacks in Afghanistan which have all left him wide open to criticism.
Even Saturday Night Live‘s Fred Armisen parodied the president’s long list of “accomplishments” on last week’s show, including the two most important: “jack and squat.”
Enter the Nobel Committee, stage left, with an announcement that Obama was selected “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Like most news these days, I first learned of Obama’s selection via Twitter early Friday morning. This sent many into a frenzy, and not just conservatives. Tweets had exploded and in usual fashion, it was an instant battle of wits (see list below). I immediately thought the news was the result of some prank that had somehow made its way into the trending topics.
Alas, it was no joke. I remember thinking, “Really? For what?” So, I did a quick Google news search and stumbled across this piece by Michael Russnow on Huffington Post, “Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Laureate: Whatever Happened to Awarding for Deeds Actually Done?” and found myself in total agreement when he wrote:
Whatever one might feel about Obama, he has not earned this singular award. Few American presidents have received it and of those who have it was bestowed after they’d been engaged in something special. … The time has not yet arrived and circumstances have not yet evolved where Barack Obama is anywhere near the point where he has earned this prize.
An Egyptian colleague summed up the vehement objections voiced by many to the Nobel committee’s choice by pointing out that Obama’s Cairo speech, cited as one the justifications for his selection, has not been followed with substantial change in US policy. … What, she asked, has Obama done to make the world a more peaceful or just place?
So, what now? What should President Obama do? Some have suggested that he set the prize aside and then go back to the Nobel Committee in three years. At that point, he can either accept or reject it based on what role the U.S. has played, under his leadership, in positively bringing peace to all the troubled corners of the world.
There was a healthy debate about achieving peace through strength on FOX News Sunday yesterday (edited video below via TPM). Liz Cheney suggested that since the U.S. military is the largest peacekeeping force in the world, President Obama should forgo the trip to Oslo in December and send the family of a fallen soldier to accept the award instead. Bill Kristol from The Weekly Standard suggested that president should refuse the award outright, but if he does accept it, he should do so on behalf of the U.S. military and deliver a pro-America speech. Juan Williams from National Public Radio offered, “They just honored the United States and our stature as the lone superpower in the world and our ability to bring peace and that acknowledgement is nothing that is intended to insult America or our military.”
Interesting logic. We didn’t become a superpower overnight or by accident. As the saying goes, “Freedom isn’t free.” Many have bravely sacrificed life and limb in the name of liberty to build our great nation.
If indeed the Nobel Committee, through this award, chose to recognize the men and women serving in the U.S. military for taking the fight to the terrorists, murderous thugs and tyrants, then President Obama should accept it in that spirit.
And he should do so on behalf of our country, his predecessors and all those who have ever proudly worn the uniform of the United States of America in the name of peace and freedom.
Top Twenty Twitter Reactions To Obama’s Nobel Prize (Patrick Gavin)