Saturday, October 10, 2009
Congratulations Mr. President?
Remember, "Congratulations to my worthy opponent?"
Now, you lose the Olympics, you lose. You win the Nobel Prize for Peace, you lose.
Today's rarified, fast-paced news environment means you can wake up on the West Coast to commentary -- from Glenn Greenwald on the left to the choir of crass on the right -- insulting their own president for winning the Nobel before you can read that he actually won the Nobel.
The "fallout" from an issue for which there should be no fallout, overwhelms the original news itself.
Everybody from Joan Walsh to Joe Gergen get to weigh-in on whether the award was deserved, conveniently shunting aside the group which does painstaking, year-round work to make the designation and, mind you, pony-up the accompanying prize money.
They work in media, you see. Don't think until they interpret it for you.
If any proof were needed (and none was) that nothing President Barack Obama does will ever placate the conservative hate machine, this latest wrinkle (and our marvelous president delivers them quickly) ought to do the trick.
Obama had the chestnuts to speak on behalf of his hometown's bid for the Olympics and the fortitude to take the hit, such as it was. The choir was loud and sour in jeering those efforts.
It was disjointed coming from guys who wear American flag ties and whistle George M. Cohan tunes in the shower.
After all, Hannity and cohorts are always lamenting Obama's failure to highlight "American exceptionalism" in his forays abroad. But what could be more "exceptional" than winning the Nobel Prize for Peace?
In other, smaller, countries, when a native citizen wins such a prize, it is naturally an occasion for universal celebration.
As a matter of fact, in other smaller countries, Obama's winning seems to have ushered in just such an occasion.
Only in his own country, where a television network and millions of dollars in conservative funding have turned the president into a big-eared, socialist, Kenyan-born object of loathing, is the party dampened.
The Nobel gift became a really great chance to criticize.
Once the party of blue-haired dowagers and genteel country clubbers, the current GOPers can't summon up the simple gentleman's grace of wishing one of their own countryman a terse congratulations.
Tell you what, with the kind of noise heard yesterday, highwayscribery will have to reject the Nobel Prize for Literature, when it comes, for his family's sake.
But Obama is made of sterner stuff than highwayscribery. Despite what his detractors say, the President works hard and did not win his prize in a vacuum.
What really galls his enemies is that Obama is what we call "a winner" and no sooner was the grave soil on Chicago's Olympian disappointment settling, when the President had provoked them again by bringing honor to their country.
The brayers might say those of us closer to reality on the political spectrum would have done much the same had George W. Bush won the award.
But he did not, which is the greater message in all of this.