Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eugene Robinson Still Gets a Paycheck

And I love it. This week, we've got Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in the first paragraph. This will be a particularly empty exercise.

Somebody explain this to me:

Happy to do so.

The president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and Rush Limbaugh joins with the Taliban in bitterly denouncing the award?

Geologists join with the Taliban in researching caves. This cheap rhetorical device isn't even phrased as a question, but I'll answer it, cause it's got a question mark. Rush opposes the award because he doesn't think Obama deserves it. The Taliban opposes it because it is batshit insane. Insane people are right once in a while. Didn't Eugene see Revolutionary Road?

Glenn Beck has a conniption fit and demands that the president not accept what may be the world's most prestigious honor?

It is precisely because the honor is prestigious that Obama should have declined it, was the argument. If he had won the George McGovern award for advancement and character, nobody would care.

The Republican National Committee issues a statement sarcastically mocking our nation's leader -- elected, you will recall, by a healthy majority -- as unworthy of such recognition?

Not sure what Eugene's question is here. Is he saying it's wrong to mock a president who is elected by a healthy majority? Cause, well, pot meet kettle, Washington Post. Or is he saying that simply being elected qualifies one for the Nobel freaking Peace Prize? To which, commentary implied by the inclusion of the word "freaking".

Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?

Because one of its leading papers allows asinine nonsense like this to be written.

OK, I know, it's just some conservatives who've been exhibiting what they, in a different context, surely would describe as "Hanoi Jane" behavior.

Hanoi Jane went to our enemies, disseminated their talking points, accused our prisoners of war of being hypocrites and liars, and... Why am I dignifying this idiocy with a response?

Others who haven't taken leave of their political senses...

Given the above, I'm not sure Eugene ought to be the arbiter of what constitutes political sense.

-- and are familiar with the concept of manners -- responded to President Obama's unexpected award with equanimity and even grace. Sen. John McCain, for example, offered his good-natured congratulations.

Sen. John McCain always offers his good-natured congratulations. Have you ever noticed that? Also, he would have had the good sense to turn down this award, not that he would have received it.

Some of Obama's most strident critics, however, just can't give it a rest. They use words like "farce" and "travesty," as if there were always universal agreement on the worthiness of the Nobel peace laureate.

If there was universal agreement as to what constitutes a farce, there would be no need to argue that something is a farce. The purpose of editorializing is precisely not to speak to universal agreement.

Does anyone remember the controversy over Henry Kissinger or Yasser Arafat or F.W. de Klerk?

So, Eugene is arguing that the award is a farce after all.

The problem for the addlebrained Obama-rejectionists is that the president, as far as they are concerned, couldn't possibly do anything right, and thus is unworthy of any conceivable recognition.

No, the "addlebrained" argument is that he has done nothing to advance peace, and has not laid out a roadmap for peace, and has in fact made moves that will ensure war.

If Obama ended all hunger in the world, they'd accuse him of promoting obesity.

Thanks for the hypothetical.

If he solved global warming, they'd complain it was getting chilly.

Actually, Obama already solved global warming, and it is getting chilly.

If he got Mahmoud Abbas and Binyamin Netanyahu to join him around the campfire in a chorus of "Kumbaya," the rejectionists would claim that his singing was out of tune.

No, we'd complain that Obama thinks bringing leaders around the campfire to sing "Kumbaya" is going to solve long-standing religious land disputes. The event itself would literally be beyong parody, so Glenn Beck would simply show the footage, and then stare into the camera and shrug. That is how that would go, Eugene.

More interesting, but no less goofy, is the recommendation -- by otherwise sane commentators -- that Obama should decline the award. This is ridiculous.

Wait. Haven't we just spent the last several paragraphs talking about this recommendation? He referred to it in his opening paragraph. What were we just talking about? This is bad writing.

If the award just represented the political views of a handful of left-leaning, self-satisfied Norwegian Eurocrats, as some critics have charged, then it wouldn't matter whether Obama won it or not.

Fair enough. But it means much more.

But of course it means much more.


The Nobel Peace Prize, irrespective of the idiosyncratic process that selects its winner, is universally recognized as a stamp of the world's approval.

Thanks for the clarification, Eugene.

For an American president to reject such a token of approval would be absurdly counterproductive.

Why? Because Eugene says so, I guess.

Obama has shifted U.S. foreign policy away from George W. Bush's cowboy ethos toward a multilateral approach.

Just ask Poland... Wait, on second thought, ask France. What? France isn't on board? How is that poss... Alright, I'll throw out a random country. Czech Republic. No? So who is with him on this? Gordon Brown? But he's not going to be in power much... Oy, vey.

He envisions, and has begun to implement, a different kind of U.S. leadership that I believe is more likely to succeed in an interconnected, multipolar world. That this shift is being noticed and recognized is to Obama's credit -- and to our country's.

Again, the award was decided within days of his becoming president.

The peace prize comes as Obama is in the midst reviewing war strategy in Afghanistan. Some advocates for sending additional troops are complaining -- and some advocates of a pullout are hoping -- that the award may somehow limit the president's options.

Which would be a great reason for him to reject the award.

But the prize is nothing more than an acknowledgment of what Obama has been saying and doing thus far.

Then why does disagreeing with its award put one in league with the Taliban? Aren't you really saying you don't approve of what the President has done thus far?

He hardly needs to be reminded of his philosophy of international relations -- or that he once called Afghanistan a "war of necessity."

Because he's making it up as he goes along.

What I really don't understand is the view that somehow there's a tremendous downside for Obama in the award. It raises expectations, these commentators say -- as if expectations of any American president, and especially this one, were not already sky high.

Quick aside. Does Eugene really not understand this view? How is that possible? At a moment in which the American people are realizing the emperor has no clothes, the Nobel committee just sent him a bowtie. You can agree or disagree with that interpretation of the narrative, but to not understand it?

Obama has taken on the rescue of the U.S. financial system and the long-term restructuring of the economy.

And that's going swimmingly, isn't it?

He has launched historic initiatives to revolutionize health care, energy policy and the way we educate our children.

Extending the school year counts as a revolution?

He said flatly during the campaign that he wants to be remembered as a transformational president.

The only reasonable response is McCain's: Congratulations.

The only reasonable response to someone wanting to do something is: Congratulations? That's America for you.

Nothing, not even the Nobel Peace Prize, can set the bar any higher for President Obama than he's already set it for himself.

The only reasonable response to this bit of fawning is mine: Puke.


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