For all his faults — which we do acknowledge — President Obama has, thus far, shamelessly blazed his own trail through the modern political landscape. As a wise robot once described Beck (the artist not the pundit), the man transcends [political] genres even as he reinvents them.
On that note, when he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday, he’ll accept it as a President embroiled in newly deepened war — and he’ll embrace the fact, candidly.
Good for him. Americans generally, and Democrats specifically, need an epoch-making President for an epoch-making age. Despite the horrors of war, which we again acknowledge (and do not embrace lightly), the fact remains that the world is a dangerous place, more dangerous that at any time since the end of the Cold War. For a difficult world, peace is not a tenable option in all our interactions. Our job as Americans isn’t to keep peace at all costs, but to secure peace, by blood and iron if necessary (“…let us die to make men free…”). Setting aside the question of whether Afghanistan is a war of necessity, as I believe it to be, it must be understood, at a fundamental level, that although war is undesirable, it is not intrinsically evil, when done right. We are a nation of citizen-soldiers, and we’ve gladly toppled empires for the right to stay home in peace for a few decades. It’s what we do, and the world is better, and more peaceful, for it. Let’s focus on getting this war right, not on chastising ourselves for its necessity.
Obama, I hope, will show that it is possible to be a “war president” who stands for peace. This nuance may, for many of my compatriots, make the President more and more difficult to love. The day after his inauguration, we theorized as much. But I stick by the conclusion:
[F]or we Democrats, our relationship with President Obama may end up looking less like the brief flare of infatuation with a charismatic politician, and more like a long-term relationship: day-by-day, it won’t always duplicate the magic of the first date, and it may even have its dark moments. But when it’s all over in 2016, we’ll be glad of the relationship, as much for its valleys as its peaks, and we’ll have learned something about ourselves along the way. Time shall tell. For now, at least, let it suffice that we’re glad to see him at 1600 Pennsylvania.
Relatedly, a solemn word of gratitude, which I forgot to add yesterday, for the men and women who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, and the soldiers who fought for their memory, and for all mankind.