This past weekend I dreamt that during President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech former DNC Chairman (and Bill Clinton’s best friend) Terry McAuliffe stood up and said, “Barack, I’m happy for you and I’ma [sic] let you finish, but the Clinton Global Initiative had one of the most peaceful years of all time!”
Of course, this could never happen — not that McAuliffe isn’t every bit the jackass that Kanye West is — because Oslo City Hall in Norway has much better security than Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Almost universally, the domestic response to President Obama winning the award has been to point out that he hasn’t “accomplished enough” to deserve to be in company of people like Mother Teresa and Bishop Desmond Tutu. But that idea not only insults the Nobel committee, it also shows our collective ignorance. The nominations are submitted in February for work done during the preceding year — when Barack was a candidate and still in the U.S. Senate. And say what you will about presidential accomplishments, between February ‘08 and February ‘09, no person in the world did more or better work for “fraternity between nations” than Sen. Barack Obama.
Remember that we, as a nation, had taken a very aggressive posture around the world since 2001. Then along came an unlikely anti-war presidential candidate in 2008. While the presumptive nominees of both parties (Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain) were still yelling, “Cowboy up,” this other candidate was saying, “Tone it down.” He was dismissed for saying he would pull out of Iraq, he was mocked for saying he would talk with our enemies, and everyone told him he had to get tougher — until he became the new presumptive nominee and likely next president. That’s when he began earning the Nobel Peace Prize.
It started in St. Paul, Minn. in June when he said, “Change is realizing that meeting today’s threats requires not just our firepower, but the power of our diplomacy — tough, direct diplomacy where the president of the United States isn’t afraid to let any petty dictator know where America stands and what we stand for. We must once again have the courage and conviction to lead the free world.”
It continued in front of a quarter-million people in Berlin in July.
“As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya. Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan, could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin … .”
Then came his inaugural address in January.
“To all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more. Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”
Along the way, he met with former and current British Prime Ministers Blair and Brown, German Chancellor Merkel, French President Sarkozy, former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Palestinian President Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq, and Afghan President Karzai — and gave all of these world leaders an indication of what they could expect from an Obama administration. After eight years of having a cowboy thumb stuck in their eye, I’m sure it was a relief.
The thing to keep in mind is just how little the rest of the world thought of us before last November. Barack Obama was clearly best qualified to be president, but he wasn’t supposed to win. Around the world, nobody thought we would get it right on election day. After all, we re-elected George W. Bush despite clear evidence that his presidency was a disaster. The Nobel committee certainly knew who the right guy for the job was, and in case we the people of the United States had made the mistake of electing President John McCain, these five forward-thinking Norwegians were prepared to offer Barack the ultimate consolation prize.
Kenny Mack is a multi-platform content provider with four-quadrant crossover appeal who thinks Barack’s Nobel acceptance speech will be talked about for a long, long time. His past columns are archived at www.ifyoumissedit.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org