>> Monday, October 12, 2009
While most conservatives would be outraged if Barack Obama managed to win a blueberry pie at a 4H raffle, others would simply mutter and cluck their tongues out of feigned concern that he really didn't need that pie, and besides, the people who made the pie aren't that special, and -- what's more -- somebody, somewhere will someday make fun of the president because he couldn't eat the entire pie on his own.
It's in that dim spirit that Ross Douthat thinks the President would have done the world an enormous favor by rejecting the Nobel Prize the other day. Aside from showing a bizarre lack of familiarity with the nicknames that George Bush acquired in office, Douthat is confusing me terribly. On the one hand, the award is the supposed to be the cross-eyed offspring of "a committee of five obscure Norwegians" whose opinions matter to no one at all -- especially not "to the Europeans or the Africans, to Moscow or Beijing, or to any other population or great power" that Americans should care about or fear. And so as far as Douthat sees it, the Nobel is about as meaningful as a Father's Day card declaring him to be "Number One Dad," since everyone knows he's not actually the Number One Dad on the planet.
On the other hand, Douthat insists that Obama's award is so improper that the world will froth over with rage when it realizes that any number of other people could have received it instead. Because he's so obviously unsuited for the honor, Obama will discover that "failure, if and when it comes, [is] that much more embarrassing and difficult to bear" (which is, to be fair, precisely the sort of dilemma you'd bear in mind mind if you'd been handed a jizz mop and told to go clean up the mess Bill Kristol had made in the corner booth.) But the idea that the Nobel is going to provide Obama's critics with further ammunition seems weirdly far-fetched. If we assume the award was a nod of approval for the steps taken by the Obama administration after eight years of universal horror, it's not hard to imagine the reaction of conservatives if Obama had received the Nobel after several years of "actual accomplishment." They'd be whining about how he failed to develop missile defense for Europeans who didn't actually want it; they'd be howling about his Chamberlain-esque naivete in refusing to set Iran ablaze; there would be the predictable bleats about "selling out" right-wing Israelis; and we'd have to listen to endless recitations about the virtues of "peace through strength" and how only dirty fucking hippies support the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.
But since Obama's getting the award now and not later,
we'll apparently have to concede that McCain's "Celebrity" ad was spot-on!
...UPDATES [BY SL]:
- When you have the same idea Mickey Kaus had three days ago, you can be safe in assuming that it's a lemon. I assume most of our readers already understand this, but if you think that such an action wouldn't have resulted in acres of bandwidth and ink being spent on an "Obama is such an uppity narcissist he think he's too good for the Nobel Peace Prize" narrative I have some Orange County Option ARM derivatives to sell you.
- Daniel Davies, in comments: "