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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Right Reacts to The Prize

This item, a follow-up to J.P. Green’s post earlier, was cross-posted at The New Republic.
Taking a quick look around the right-wing fever swamps this morning, it was possible to form the opinion that the Nobel Prize Committee had honored Barack Obama with its peace prize in order to confuse and enrage American conservatives.
The Right clearly did not coordinate its talking points. There was in fact a breakfast buffet of reactions.
Dismissal of the prize as “anti-American” was one approach. At The Corner, Andy McCarthy suggested it be renamed the “Yasir Arafat Peace Prize,” and denounced the award as a “symbolic statement of opposition to American exceptionalism, American might, American capitalism, American self-determinism, and American pursuit of America’s interests in the world.”
Others went for pure snark along the traditional lines of mocking Obama as “The One.” Here’s Ann Althouse:

The question isn’t why did they give Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. The question is why didn’t he get the Olympics.
The story of Barack Obama is the story of winning things when he hasn’t yet done enough to deserve them. He is, quite simply, Barack Obama. We understand that. Why didn’t the IOC understand? You could see it in that smile on his face, when he concluded his little speech in Copenhagen, that he bore the sublime knowledge he would acquire the Olympics for Chicago. Because he is Barack Obama, the man to whom grand prizes are given.

Then there were those who suggested a sinister intention by the Nobel Committee to force Obama even further in his horrible anti-American direction. That was the tack taken by Rush Limbaugh:

And with this award the elites of the world are urging Obama THE MAN OF PEACE not to do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States.

Finally, and I didn’t delve deeply into such literature, some on the Right just went nasty nuts. Behold the reaction of Erick Erickson of the prominent conservative site RedState: “I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota for it, but that is the only thing I can think of for this news.”
(Oops, sorry, I forgot: by mentioning this slur, I am guilty of playing the “race card.”)
It will be interesting to see which of these interpretive themes will emerge as the conservative consensus choice. One thing’s for sure: the Right will claim what many have called an “aspirational award” damages Obama’s domestic political standing, for that is their own fond aspiration.

2 comments on “The Right Reacts to The Prize

  1. ducdebrabant on

    I’m so sad. I got up this morning and grabbed my laptop and was astonished to find that the President of the United States had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. It was supposed to be either a Colombian MP or a Saudi prince or a democracy activist in China, but it was Barack Hussein Obama, whose name hadn’t even been mentioned.
    I was incredibly excited … until I turned on TV and started looking at websites. All day long I saw a weary round of arch and cynical commentary from the press, flip and dismissive remarks from much of the public. Interspersed with warmhearted congratulations from foreigners, Twitter was larded with nasty remarks from Americans about their own President receiving one of the greatest honors the world can bestow.
    Republicans couldn’t even say the word “congratulations,” and all over America people suddenly started feigning a concern for the credibility of the prize itself. Looks as if they’d let the Norwegian parliament worry about that (it’s their responsibility) and just be glad a little.
    The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which was unanimous (!!!), was very clear about its reasons, and as one of them pointed out, there are precedents for Obama’s award. Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik hadn’t brought down the Berlin Wall when he won, but it was the start of a process that ultimately did. Mikhail Gorbachev won for instituting Perestroika, long before Eastern Europe was freed and the Soviet Union broke up. But he had started a process that ultimately would. Both men changed the rhetoric, the focus and the methodology.
    But even if we don’t think he deserved it, can’t we be happy? It is surely worth celebrating that an American President is revered abroad. In some countries, polls show he’s trusted more to do good in the world than those countries’ own leaders. I don’t have to look too far back at all to find a time when a Nobel for the President would have been unthinkable. In many, if not most, other countries, they’d be dancing in the streets over this honor. In America, most of my countrymen seem to range in their remarks from vicious to blase.
    Tonight I put on MSNBC for some more news and got “Caught on Camera,” where they spent ten minutes celebrating the young man whose video of himself dancing in scores of other countries went viral and made him a celebrity. It was a completely sunny and uncritical feature, as it should have been. No such luck for the guy whose message of peace went viral and who now has a Nobel Prize for his pains — there wasn’t a moment of real joy on the news all day, except of course for the man in the street in Kenya. Simply because Obama has relatives there, they thought it was good news for them.
    And I thought this would be a happy day.

  2. john patton on

    When Bin Laden, Rush Limbaugh, the Likud, Sarah Palin, Ahmadinijad and Charles Krauthammer all howl in perfect six-part high-falsetto harmony like the Platters on a PBS reunion show, you know the Nobel committee has landed a shot directly to Lucifer’s balls.


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