Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel win feeds cult of personality?

When I first heard about it, I seriously thought it was a joke. I didn't even realize Nobel prizes were being given out at the moment. Nope, sure enough, President Barack Obama receives a Nobel Peace prize! So my next question was: why? Apparently it was for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." My next though was: right-wing nuts will have a field day with this one!

Sure enough, the hate America crowd is back at it again. They are all in a dither that Barack Obama won a Nobel just as they were elated that our nation lost a bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

What it really comes down to with them—outside of, as always, scoring political points and increasing ratings—is they are jealous. Their presidents tend to be despised by the world, and for good reason. The Democrats tend to have presidents who are beloved by it. Certainly in Barack Obama's case, this is obvious. And though they deny it, this really just eats them up. They can't stand it. Which is why they will say things like losing the Olympic bid meant "the ego has landed" and that "the world rejected Obama". This is what they want to be the case (in spite of their obvious scorn for the rest of the world); they want the world to be more supportive of them, their ideas, their party, their presidents, and thus they will point to any dip in polls, any election defeat, any loss of any kind as proof the country or even the world hates the Democrats, too. It's actually quite pathetic.

I must say, I'm interested to see how they reconcile the Olympic-loss-as-world-rejection-of-Obama with the Nobel-win-proves-world's-cult-of-personality-of-Obama. One can't honestly have it both ways, but then right-wingers, partisan hacks do live in a such an alternate reality.

At least Sen. John McCain, again, managed to muster some integrity in his reaction to President Obama winning Nobel award. Why couldn't he have been more like this during the campaign? I still wouldn't have voted for him, but I could have had more respect for the man.

Ultimately, I had to agree with Peter Beinart's take on this. I don't believe Barack Obama should have won this prize. Certainly not now. There are many circumstantial reasons, like the fact that he doesn't actually need the money for any projects, at least not nearly as much as what many others could put that money to use for. The man has been president for less than a year and yet he's already being hailed the world over as some sort of Messiah.

I think there is a more fundamental reason, however. Though I know this sort of thing has happened before, I don't believe the Nobel prize should be awarded preemptively. I think the committee has discredited themselves in instances where they have done so. My take is, you don't have to cure world-hunger to deserve one, but you at least need to save a great many lives from starvation first. Barack Obama as President of the United States has made many efforts to change domestic and the world's political climate, to foster peace and reconciliation, but he hasn't actually achieved any great successes on these fronts. Not that I've seen anyway.

Now this isn't to say he won't, it certainly isn't to say he hasn't tried, only that all this remains to be seen. Objectively, it truly remains to be seen. It's probably going to take years before we have any idea whether his efforts made any substantive improvements to world peace. I think perhaps the end of his first term, beginning of his second, end of his second would have been better times to visit this subject. It also likely wouldn't have stirred nearly as much controversy as a case would probably be easy to make at that time what his accomplishments have actually been.

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