Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Congratulations to President Barack Obama?

The Bigger Picture
Published on October 22nd in Metro Éireann By Charles Laffiteau
Well I guess this must be my month for Congratulations. First Ireland for its vote to approve the Lisbon Treaty, then Brazil for its selection as the host country for the 2016 Summer Olympics and today I’m offering congratulations to President Obama for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now I’m wondering who I’ll congratulate next week.
But back in the states the reaction of many political pundits and columnists to our Presidents Nobel award has been anything but congratulatory. Conservative radio and TV talk show demagogues even went so far as to offer up comments that if uttered by a liberal or a Democrat would have been considered downright un-patriotic.
Leading the way was, who else but the Republican Party’s right-wing “King of Bombast”, Rush Limbaugh. While discussing President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize on his radio show, he told his audience that “Something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn't deserve the award.” Hmmm. By “we” I’m guessing “Rushbo” was referring to his “ditto heads” listeners, who have of course never heard Limbaugh say anything that they didn’t whole-heartedly agree with.
Still not satisfied his comments, Rush then went on to tell Newsweek magazine that “the Nobel gang just suicide-bombed themselves.” While I’m not exactly sure the analogy between the Nobel panel’s decision to give an award to President Obama and al Qaeda’s decision to dispatch suicide bombers to kill innocent people actually makes sense, then again considering the source and his audience, I guess it doesn’t have to.
Nor was “Rushbo” alone in his thinking about what a bad choice the Nobel panel made. Another conservative heart-throb, Glenn Beck, claimed President Obama’s accolade was due to a powerful conspiracy of global progressive (left-wing) interest groups. While believing Obama’s Nobel Prize was the result of a global conspiracy might be a bit of a stretch, Beck’s suggestion that the organizers of this year’s anti-tax “tea parties” was the most deserving choice for the Nobel Peace Prize simply defies all logic.
Another conservative extremist and political columnist took a different tack, focusing more on attacking the award itself rather than its recipient. Andrew McCarthy is a former Assistant United States Attorney for New York who once prosecuted Islamic terrorists including Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. McCarthy now writes for the National Review and has repeatedly attacked President Obama as a left wing radical as well as defended “waterboarding” as a legitimate interrogation technique, not torture.
McCarthy claims that the Nobel Peace Prize had become “damaged goods” ever since it was awarded to Yasser Arafat in 1994. Funny, but as I recall, the 1994 Nobel was given to three men, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in recognition of the Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement. Then again maybe if I had a law degree I could understand Mr. McCarthy’s logic; i.e. waterboarding is not torture and giving a peace prize to the political leaders who forged a peace agreement lessens its value. But since I don’t I guess I’ll just have to continue to muddle along with my limited legal knowledge.
Of course the supposedly better educated and more erudite members of the Republican Party’s neo-conservative establishment weren’t exactly congratulating President Obama either. Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, a man who is always spoiling for America to send its military forces into battle, simply said President Obama should decline the Nobel award. Bolton speaks with such authority because he avoided risking his life during the Vietnam War by joining the Army National Guard.
Last, but certainly not least, Conservative political ideologue saw an analog between President Obama’s Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize that was given to Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. Kristol claims that since Gorbachev resigned as the President of the Soviet Union (the day before it was officially desolved) just over a year after he had been awarded the Nobel that means President Obama will lose when he runs for a second term as US president in 2012.
I guess I’m just not smart enough yet, but I don’t exactly see a parallel between resigning the Presidency of the Soviet Union in 1991, a year after being given the Nobel Peace Prize, and losing a US Presidential re-election campaign in 2012, three years after being given the same award. Well, maybe I’ll be able to make more sense of this once I have a PhD. For those of you who may not know who he is, Bill Kristol has a PhD and is also the editor of a Rupert Murdoch’s conservative political periodical, The Weekly Standard. Still and all, even though Mr. Kristol does have a PhD in Government from Harvard, he also has yet to grasp the meaning of the term “journalistic integrity.”
At the very least though, the Nobel committee has succeeded in finding a way to help America’s right-wingers overcome their paranoid hatred of all things Muslim. Rush Limbaugh’s “ditto heads” and other American right-wingers have finally found some common ground with Muslim extremists and al Qaeda terrorists; they all hate President Obama and all of them are afraid President Obama might some day succeed. Wow! Partisan politics sure does make for some strange bedfellows now doesn’t it?
Frankly though, I can’t really say I’m that surprised by the attacks on President Obama and the Nobel Prize committee that have resulted from this award. Disappointed maybe, but given the partisan rancor that President Obama’s election has engendered for the past year, hardly surprised that Republican neo-conservatives and right wing political demagogues have sought to disparage any award being given to President Obama.
What really concerned and disappointed me though, is the fact that partisan political conservatives were by no means the only members of the political news media in America questioning the Nobel panel’s decision to award President Barack Obama its Peace Prize. I will discuss those opinions as well as my own take on the Nobel Peace Prize award in next week’s column.

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