During the 2008 election, candidate Barack Obama was derisively referred to as “The One.” His opponent’s attack ads implied he was the Messiah. “He has anointed himself ready to carry the burden of The One,” went the infamous TV spot. Some wondered if this wasn’t a dog whistle to the Apocalypse-minded Americans who weren’t put off enough by a half-African man with the middle name of Hussein—he could also be the anti-Christ!!
Obama won the election. And then just to make matters worse, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota for it,” penned right-wing blogspot and Fox Newser Erik Erikson.
Ed Rollins opined on CNN, ”I think it has diminished the award itself.”
“At first I thought the announcement of the prize was a joke. On further reflection, the Nobel Committee has made itself a joke,” said Michael Gerson, a Bush speechwriter.
The general consensus on the right was Obama didn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. They thought it should go to Reagan. Because Reagan is conservatives’ “The One.” Former “ambassador” John Boltonhilariously said George W. Bush should get the Nobel Peace Prize. Yes, the president who preemptively invaded Iraq under false pretenses with fictionalized intelligence—That One.
The Obama-doesn’t-deserve-the-Nobel-Peace-Prize sentiment somehow seamlessly morphed into an Appeaser-in-Chief meme. During the next presidential election, Mitt Romney claimed Obama started his presidency off with an apology tour. Right-wing author, Michelle Malkin, said Obama was “Jihadi-Coddling” in regards to the oft-debunked Benghazi conspiracy theory. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann demanded, “President Obama must immediately end his doctrine of appeasement and weakness toward Iran.” Obama is more willing to negotiate with Iran than Republicans, bristled right-wingers.
(Right, because unlike the GOP, Iran is opting to feign moderation in order to get their way.)
Cut to: Nelson Mandela’s funeral and an impromptu handshake between Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro. (Fidel Castro and Nelson Mandela had a very close mutual admiration. Fidel was a guest of honor at Mandela’s inauguration.) Cue: Right-wing freak out. Question: Should Obama have punched Castro instead? He was at a funeral for a fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s become the symbol of human dignity: was he supposed to snub a fellow mourner? Was he supposed to act—to borrow a descriptive word invoking fear of black men—like a thug?
Alfred Nobel, whose fortune and name endows the aforementioned prizes, invented dynamite and ballistite; an explosive and a rocket propellant. He held patents to tools of war. Just as the name of the father of yellow journalism, Joseph Pulitzer, graces the most prestigious and highbrow journalism award of all. The point is: this stuff is complicated. And diplomacy is complicated. And peace is complicated.
Yes, this Nobel Peace Prize winner and alleged Appeaser in Chief is culpable in shooting Osama bin Laden in the face. Yes, this Nobel Peace Prize winner and alleged Appeaser in Chief has a questionable drone policy that could or could not be helping or hurting U.S. interests. This Nobel Peace Prize winner and alleged Appeaser in Chief has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in history. Like I said, this stuff is complicated.
We’re a nation with war fatigue. We’ve been at war for so long we’ve forgotten what peace means or what it looks like. If Americans wanted their president to hobble around singing “Bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” we had that choice. (It was alandslidein 2008: 10 million more Americans voted for Obama than Acappella McCain. That’s 365 electoral votes to 173.)
Instead we’re wading into the murky waters of international relations. There was a phone call with Iran. U.N. inspectors are in Syria. There was a handshake with Fidel’s brother.
And to bring these complex issues home, I’ll end by quoting the wife-beating deadbeat dad, John Lennon: “Imagine all the people living life in peace…”
Taking Eternal Vigilance Too Far