No really – I mean it! + The Nobel.

Holy crow, another week gone and I still haven’t kept one of last week’s promises! Well. I beg your forbearance, and promise (…) to research and write about Iran next week. I have a wee start, but nothing that I could easily make sense of now, and I have to go cook for yet another in the endless round of Jewish fall holidays!

So, in lieu of new thinking, I’ll borrow from myself over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place earlier today, re: President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

I feel like I should be happy, or all weepy, or proud, or some such. But what I really feel is that the Nobel committee is either rewarding us for getting rid of Bush, or rewarding Obama for not being Bush, or simply indulging in wishful thinking. Or all three.

My faith in this President and his skills has been dropping for a couple of months now, but after the Administration joined Israel in forcing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to table the Goldstone report, it just kind of limped into the corner.

Other than the fact that we are inching very slowly toward the possibility of talks with Iran, I literally see no actual improvement on the international scene. I see nothing that has actually begun to change. The Iraq draw-down had been agreed on before he took office — Obama is keeping the terms of an agreement that was already in place. Afghanistan is worse, and he’s prevaricating about how to make it better. We’re told that we no longer torture, but given that he will do nothing to investigate past torture, I find myself doubting, particularly as the President continues to look for the best way to keep People We Don’t Like in indefinite legal limbo. Gitmo will not be closed by January, which would be fine if it looked like there was at least progress, but mostly I see what looks a lot like wheel-spinning. And in the area that I obsess about the most, Israel/Palestine, Obama has not only not lived up to his own, self-generated hype, but he has been pushed back by Israel on several fronts, and has effectively buried Abbas.

I don’t wish to discount his efforts toward nuclear disarmament, or the fact that he’s brought us back to the UN — these are big steps. But with all the discouragement that I’m feeling, I will admit that even as I notice those things, in the back of my mind a tiny voice is saying: “But that’s not actually achievement. That’s just setting the stage” — which, yes, the stage has to be set in order to achieve achievement. Yes. But there has been an awful lot of stage setting, and a few sizeable misjudgments, and honestly, I’m ready to stop cheering ideas and start cheering facts.

I do hope that I will be proven wrong — oh my God, I hope this so desperately, and if I am proven wrong I will positively leap to my feet and shout “I WAS WRONG!!” from the rooftops.

And of course, the President himself said that he sees this as a call to action, and, as Andrew Sullivan wrote today, it could very well be “a downpayment on a potential transformative period in world history.” I hope so.

But right now? I just can’t see it. And this makes me sadder than I can say.

(And I can’t tell you how much I hate that this post also inadvertently puts me in with the fuckers on the right who seem to think that being patriotic means reflexive rejection of anything and everything that this President does or stands for. God damn it!).


  1. Michele

     /  October 9, 2009

    Oh, girl-friend, don’t go to the dark side. I feel sorry for dear POTUS. You can tell by his body language he is embarrased by this award. And I do think your post today didn’t cut him enough slack. The world feels safer than it did 9 months ago. He’s actually talking to people, all kinds of people and I think that’s real progress. And he pissed off Poland to help build bridges with Russia, the first president since Carter, really, to make nuclear arms reduction any kind of priority. He has made dipolomacy the center of his international efforts. He’s actually talking to lots and lots of people about Afganistan instead of just plowing ahead with whatever he might have thought was right during the campaign. He’s probably the most powerful person in the world, so these “little” things are therefore incredibly powerful. And he’s doing all this while battling a vicious right wing that wants him dead. He could be ignoring international issues entirely given what’s on his home plate, but he’s not. He’s putting himself out there in his pragmatic and sensible way and it’s not radical enough for some of us, but it has made peace once again seem thinkable and something we have a duty to pursue.

  2. Lise

     /  October 10, 2009

    Yep, I was wishing last night that I could read the story of the 204 people who were nominated but didn’t win the Nobel Peace prize. I’ll bet there are some very worthy peace activists out there who’ve labored long and thanklessly, and could use the recognition and money more than our POTUS.

  3. Deserved or not, he did get the prize. As he publicly stated he does not feel as though he deserves the award. End of discussion. Too much is being made of this because, more than anything, this is another opportunity for the wingnuts to whine loudly and bitch about everything Obama. The prize money will go to some deserving charities and the wingers will have another reason to whine loudly and bitch. Big deal. This really isn’t any different than the 90’s when it comes to how the Right reacts to a Democratic President.

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