Update: on the heels of his Nobel win, Obama’s popularity is up to 56%, from 50%. Just another reminder that the whackjobs “upset” over Friday’s big news may talk big, but they don’t have the numbers to back it up.
I never thought I’d see the day — but O’Reilly gets it. As I said on Friday, whether or not Obama “deserved” the award, when the American President receives the Nobel Peace Prize, it helps us, as Americans, if not us, as Democrats or Republicans. So, a momentary note on perspective.
The conservative reaction to Obama’s receipt of the prize — shared by some liberals — is that Obama has done nothing to deserve the Prize. From the conservative perspective, Obama has weakened America abroad while ushering in a new era of socialism (the horror!). From the liberal perspective, Obama has made a lot of promises, and fulfilled few. In brief, from any American perspective, the Prize is questionable. If it was given on the merits, it’s premature; if intended as a “gift” of political capital (from Norway, with love), hopelessly misguided.
That judgment, however, assumes that we, as Americans, were the Award’s intended audience. I don’t think we were. It’s easy to forget the importance of the American image is abroad. But we are, remember, the world’s last remaining superpower, the unquestioned hegemon. Accordingly, President Obama’s decision to participate once more in the world America helped create is momentous. Simply put, unilateralism looks a lot different, and a lot more menacing, from the other side. From that perspective, Obama’s presence in office, and his efforts to engage the world once again, are worthy of reward. We’re all citizens of the world, and for once, the American President is saying as much. The Nobel Peace Prize recognizes this fundamental change of tone, first, but more importantly, reaffirms it to those with lingering suspicions worldwide. As O’Reilly said (shudder), it’s good for the world to hear “America” and “Peace” in the same sentence again.
Finally, a note on the substance of Obama’s “Peace.” I’ve heard from more than a few on my side of the aisle that, because we’re still in Afghanistan, Obama certainly doesn’t deserve the prize. It’s as if they expected War itself to die, just because a Democrat took the Oval Office.
That was never in the cards. Obama didn’t campaign on it, it’s not feasible, and it’s not even desirable. Human nature itself forecloses the possibility of an utter end to warfare and, as long as fundamentalist Islam remains a threat, the ball’s not really in our court. There is such a thing as a defensive war, and it’s important to fight those. Afghanistan’s a prime example. Until the country can be put on her feet, under better leadership, we can’t risk creating a power vacuum by leaving prematurely.
So, did Obama deserve the Nobel Peace Prize? Well, that’s a matter of perspective. Is it good for the country? Unquestionably. If the Republican Party’s version of patriotism covered more than those parts of the country over which they exercise control (“Real America” — an ever-decreasing area), then maybe they could see that.