This week Time magazine had an interesting feature on the Obama Administration’s alleged realization that it needed to strike back at “what the White House believes to be misleading or simply false claims…” You have to wonder what took them so long — and whether such a counter-attack could possibly do any good.
As we’ve shown here ceaselessly, the rightblogger wing of the anti-Obama offensive has been working since the Inauguration to publicize not only the President’s failures, but also his successes as failures. Indeed, they even promote irrelevancies and their own fantasies as Obama failures. Answering this kind of thing with fact-checking and criticism seems beside the point, like arguing with a tape-recording of a Tourette Syndrome episode.
What sort of answer, for example, could be offered to the charge that winning the Nobel Peace Prize is a bad thing? Outside the context of the rightbloggers’ war against Obama, the charge makes no sense; within that context, it makes no difference. To answer it would be like arguing that kittens are nice, or that fresh fruit is healthy.
All one can reasonably do is document the reaction and hope that, in some more enlightened age, our descendants can make something useful of it.
As we noted at the time of its announcement, rightbloggers were quick to declare the Prize a liability for the President. Daniel Pipes said that it would “harm Obama politically in the United States.” Matzav said it was “the last thing Barack Obama needed at this moment in his presidency.” “A weight around his neck?” asked Jewish Week. “Obama joins long line of Nobel Peace Prize losers,” said RedState.
“The higher the honor based on future performance, the deeper the hole if he doesn’t meet expectations,” said SamHenry. “Now a cloud of doubt hangs over the oval office.” “Is Obama’s European star finally falling to earth?” asked Pajamas Media’s Soeren Kern.
Jesus. Imagine what they’d have said if he lost.
When the Taliban joined in the attacks on Obama’s Prize, American Power saw that as just another reason to oppose it: “It’s giving leverage to the Islamist and socialist critics of the administration.” When Iran denounced it, Weasel Zippers said, “Sadly, I have to agree with Iran.” No enemies on the Right, indeed.
As tempers cooled — or drove the intemperate to wilder speculation, depending on how you look at it — the rightblogger consensus became that, while Obama was still a loser for winning the Prize, the real problem was the Prize itself.
“When Al Gore took home the honors in 2007, that should have been the final nail in the coffin of credibility,” declared Pajamas Media’s Jazz Shaw. Obama was “honored by the trust created in the name of the fellow who invented high explosives, who added horrors heretofore unimagined to the art and science of war,” said Poached Frog. “Personally I believed the Nobel lost its integrity when naming Jimmy Carter,” said Wake Up America. “Let’s not forget that the Nobel Peace Prize itself is often an outrage,” said Sister Toldjah. “The Nobel Peace Prize means nothing,” said Big Government.
Peggy Noonan called the award “wicked” and “ignorant,” in part because Reagan never won it, and suggested Obama redress the injustice by insulting his hosts at the award ceremonies (“Who invented the Internet? It was a Norwegian bureaucrat with a long face and hair on his nose and little plastic geometric eyeglasses? Oh wait, it was Americans.”)
But others were not so sanguine: The Prize, in their view, was an act of aggression (naked aggression, we might say, since the Prize is awarded by Scandinavians) against American foreign policies that rightbloggers never expected Obama to effect in the first place.
The Committee’s intent was to “pressure Obama not to use force in the theater that counts the most, namely the Iranian nuclear build-up,” claimed Daniel Pipes. “The Socialists in Europe hope that by awarding this to Obama that just maybe he will continue to downgrade the United States and roll over to the Muslims in his beta-male fashion,” decided Conservative Cloakroom.
Obama being a traitor, the brethren agreed that this diabolical Norwegian strategy would be effective. “This Peace Prize was given to Obama in order manipulate our policies and national security decisions,”said Legal Insurrection. “And I think it will work.” “Even before the Prize, there was obviously much doubt as to whether Obama would make such tough choices,” agreed Kenneth G. Davenport. “Now, it seems even more unlikely.”
Pajamas Media’s Claudia Rosett did some digging and found that a member of Norway’s Nobel Committee is a socialist, and that only four Norwegians have died on duty in Afghanistan (“even taking into account Norway’s much smaller population, this means that, proportionally, more than three times as many Americans have sacrificed their lives in Afghanistan than have Norwegians”). Thus, she determined, the Committee expects Obama “to hand over to the United Nations enormous control over and constraints upon the U.S. economy, in the name of (warming/cooling/take-your-pick) climate change.”
“European socialism cannot succeed without conquering the United States,” wrote Dick Morris And Eileen McGann. “…It must dominate worldwide or wealth and power will flow to those who remain committed to the free market… the Peace Prize expresses Europe’s longing: to take back the nation its overly ambitious and uppity children founded.” The result of this “Neville Chamberlain Award,” intoned Mark Epstein, “will only be more Western dead.”
Clearly something has to be done about the Nobel menace. “The Nobel Prize should serve as the rallying cry for patriots who recognize that it was awarded by our ideological enemies for service in behalf of their cause,” said One Citizen Speaking.
But what could they do? Invade Oslo? Strike their own medal and give it to John Bolton? Some patriots looked for ways to keep the America-killing Prize from being delivered to Obama. National Review‘s Kathryn J. Lopez found a lawyer who suggested that Obama is Constitutionally forbidden to accept the Prize and the $1.4 million that goes with it. (Constitutional scholar Eugene Volokh considered this at length, and gave Obama only provisional clearance: “But this of course still leaves the question whether the award is from a foreign State…”) “Even if Obama gives the $1.4 million to charity,” said Hans Bader at OpenMarket.org, “it still won’t change matters. A gift is a gift even if it’s later given to charity, and most people would be thrilled to have $1.4 million to give to charity.”
The Washington Examiner promoted this peculiar POV, then added, “Well, Roosevelt and Wilson accepted it while in office, but does anyone know if there were similar questions being asked at the time?”
Alas, the damage seemed irreversible. Saturday Night Live did mock Obama’s Prize, but they did it “in a very weak, liberal way,” said Fire Andrea Mitchell. Still, rightbloggers could take heart that their condemnation of the prize had been seeded into the discourse, not only via sympathetic outlets such as Fox News (“an ’embarrassment’ to the process of designating a laureate, a presidential historian says”), but also in the press at large (“East Tennesseans ask what Obama’s done to deserve Nobel Peace Prize”). Thus what would, under normal circumstances, be considered an honor for the United States was presented, with a straight face, as a calamity for it, and yet another Obama debacle. The President can only be relieved the world has no higher honor left to give him.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2009