Saturday, October 10, 2009

Other Reactions

The reasonable, moderate, sober punditry meme developed in record time yesterday morning: by 9 AM EST, there seemed to be a "consensus" among people who determine what the consensus is that well, the only respectable thing to do now is turn it down. When that didn't happen, the respectable reaction became well, certainly this is nice and all, but it's a mixed blessing; let's see how we can turn this into a negative story. Hence the absurd NYT headline "For Presidency in Search of Success, Nobel Adds a Twist" and TNR's takeaway, "Obama's Nobel: Mixed Blessing At Best."

Since you can read those pieces anywhere today (or just turn on your TV), I thought I'd highlight the assessments of people whose opinions aren't affected by their need to have a respectable reputation among the commentariat.

From the comments of readers of that TNR piece:
"Mr. Crowley et al.: You are all completely nuts. You can refuse a Nobel Prize if you want to express contempt for those who award it, or those who have received it, but to do so for the kind of cockeyed political reasons mentioned above is just totally self-defeating. And I think he has accomplished more internationally, Afghanistan aside, than a lot of people want to realize. The speech to the Arab world, his work with G20 and at the U.N., the decision on the nuclear shield, and maybe even the Iran negotiations have all made an impression on the world if not on TNR bloggers."

"All of these hideous attacks on this great honor to our President are the pinnacle of self indulgent, preening, arm chair nobody-ism. To a person, the attacks have made me sick, there's not a single decent point in any of them. If anyone deserves a Nobel, it is our brave President."
Ben Cohen at the Daily Banter:
America became a feared and despised state under the rule of the Bush Administration. The brazen disregard for global opinion, the trampling of international law, and the overt environmental destruction were hallmarks of a Presidency determined to project American power at all costs. With one election, the world forgave, and almost forgot the tragic Bush years as a young black President who spoke of hope rather than hatred, and cooperation rather than force swept into power.

This monumental shift cannot and must not be underestimated.

Steve Clemons:

...the Nobel Committee's decision to make Obama the only sitting U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson to receive the Nobel Peace Prize shows the committee's clear-headed assessment that Obama's "unclenched fist" approach to dealing with the world's most thuggish leaders has had a constructive, systemic impact on the world's expectations of itself. [...] What is brilliant about Obama and why he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that he is a global leader who clearly saw the gains that could be made in changing "the optics" of the global order, upgrading the level of respect between the United States and other nations, making a point of listening to other leaders.

Obama saw that before the world could move to a more stable and better global equilibrium, it had to believe it could -- and this is what Obama has done in ways that no other leader has in memory.

Josh Marshall calls it an "odd award," an assessment with which I'm inclined to agree, but makes a crucial point:
But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the 'hyper-power' as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it's a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was 'normal history' rather than dark aberration.
Lindsay Beyerstein at Obsidian Wings:

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a parallel dimension where everything is inverted. Accepting the Nobel Prize makes you look bad? It's narcissistic to accept prizes from other people?

I am gobsmacked that some Democrats want the president to turn down the prize for his own good. What message would that send to the rest of the world? Something along the lines of 'Thanks, guys, but I'm really all about war'?

Of course the Republicans are going to freak out. Our guy wins a Nobel Peace Prize after 9 months in office, primarily for tinkering with the worst excesses of the wars their guy started. That's humiliating. Humiliated Republicans lash out, news at eleven.

But turning it down would be a slap in the face to an international community that is showing, in the most generous way possible, that it wants the U.S. back as a leading component of the global order. The issue is not Barack Obama. It’s what the president represents internationally: a symbol of an America that is willing, once again, to drive the international system forward, together, toward the humane positive-sum goals of peace and disarmament. The fact that Obama hasn’t gotten the planet there misses the point entirely. It’s that he’s beginning, slowly, to take the world again down the path.
The first commenter on the story at Wonkette:
I thought he won because he blew up the moon and ended the wicked tides that plague the planet, but I notice this morning the moon is still there, so one more massive failure.
I smell a new meme!


Jonah said...

Thanks. Even from afar, you have once again saved me lots of time by distilling the blogosphere into a few pithy snippets. WTG!

Anonymous said...

The bike is mine.