When I woke up and opened my email box, I have to admit I first thought it was some sort of Onion spoof – Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize? Oh c’mon, where’s the punchline? But less than a half a cup of coffee later, I realized, bloody hell, this actually has happened!
Barack Obama, with less than a year in office, has won the Nobel Peace Prize, only the fourth US president to win it, after Teddy Roosevelt (1906), Woodrow Wilson (1919), and Jimmy Carter (2002), and the first sitting president since Wilson. Ostensibly, Obama has won it for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” and specifically in recognition of his efforts to work toward a nuclear weapons-free world…
Well, obviously, they had to give it to him for a specific reason, and there’s certainly a lot of validity in the ones the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided on. But the Nobel Prize has always been political, which leaves it open to many who have complained about certain recipients in the past – Yasser Arafat and Henry Kissinger probably the most notable of controversial winners. However, Arafat’s and Kissinger’s detractors were their already sworn enemies, primarily Israel, so no real surprise there. But the instant denunciation of Obama’s worthiness has been, astonishingly enough, our own people. Our fellow Americans. Citizens of the United States who should be thrilled to bits Obama has won this incredible distinction and at a time when it is so crucial for America’s battered standing in the world community.
Larisa Alexandrovna, in her blog article, “Republicanistan - A country of its own” gives a great run-down on the scale of venomous spewing from the right, from Malkin’s spittle flecked incoherence to Limbaugh’s OxyContin and Viagra fuelled rage, along with all those who cheered when Chicago lost the Olympics, who have openly expressed the hope Obama’s policies will fail, regardless of how much that would hurt the country, those flag-waving, gun-toting patriots who have called for a military coup – a military coup! – to oust a legitimate and democratically elected leader of our own country. They must destroy the village to save the village. Their war on Obama takes no prisoners, even if the entire country itself should end up as a fatality.
Yet I would suggest that is it exactly these people – yes, these hate-mongering, stark raving loony-toon seething cabal of gibbering wingnuts at the head of the marching moronic army of stoopid peepul – who are directly responsible for Obama’s surprising win.
You heard me right. We can honestly and wholeheartedly thank the Rabid Rightwing for Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Thank you, Rush, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, Michelle. I thank you with grateful tears in my eyes, Beck and Hannity and O’Reilly and Tweety and Bachmann and Palin and Erik Erickson and Jonah and all the rest of you birthers and deathers and Fox-driven demagogues. I really mean that – this wouldn’t have been possible without you. This Nobel Peace Prize won’t make you STFU, alas, but it sure as hell has been an outright repudiation of your psychotic hatred and goes a long, long way to shrinking your noise down to a shrill impotent squeak.
Many of my American friends who have travelled outside the States over the past decade have brought back anecdotes on how they were apologetically introduced at conferences as ‘one of the good kind of Americans’, or suffered at best teasing, at worst, denunciation for our country’s behavior under the Bush regime. I've been living outside the States for over twenty years now, and seen over that period of time how our reputation has deteriorated from being the usual generic 'Ugly American' to being outright hated, loathed and despised during Bush, it was visceral. I have been physically attacked, run off the road (had a small American flag on the back window of my car, silly me), spat on, and denied service in shops - because I was American. And this was the UK - can you imagine the hatred somewhere Americans are really disliked? At one point, when asked, I lied and said I was Canadian - I was fed up with feeling on the defensive all the time. But that level of animosity was very unusual, it had never happened to me before Bush, and it was heartbreaking how so many of my friends felt the need to find ways to exclude me from the general loathing, it was shameful to be an American.
In 2008, 14% of Germans, 13% of French, and 16% of the British expressed any confidence in George Bush. Less than nine months into Obama’s administration, those numbers have skyrocketed – a whopping 93% of Germans, 91% in France, 86% in the UK. And it’s not just our traditional allies who are looking more kindly on us these days, either.
...Europeans weren't alone -- more than 80% in Canada, Japan and South Korea expressed confidence in Obama. Majorities in Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, where Bush had been overwhelmingly unpopular, also gave Obama positive marks. And even in countries where Bush had been relatively popular, such as India and Nigeria, Obama's ratings were higher.
Obama's personal connection to Indonesia -- he lived there for several years as a child -- clearly had an impact on his image there: 71% rated him favorably. However, in other predominantly Muslim countries, views toward Obama were more lukewarm. The new president is more popular than Bush among Middle Eastern Muslims, but on balance he receives more negative reviews than positive ones in places such as Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. And in Pakistan -- a nation at the center of foreign policy debates in the United States -- only 13% believe Obama will do the right thing in international affairs.
The relief and even joy I saw in Kiwis here in New Zealand when Obama was elected was overwhelming. There was actual partying in the streets, and they couldn't even vote for the man. I went from being regarded as a member of one of the most despised and dishonoured countries in the world to having people say 'good on ya, mate!' and buying me drinks in celebration when they found out that I was (a) an American and (b) voted for Obama. What an incredible turnaround in such a short time.
Yeah, yeah, nuclear arms, international diplomacy, cooperation between peoples, yada yada, whatever. We all know the real reasons. The world has had enough of the rabid right wing corruption that blighted our country under the Bush administration. And while it’s not all that clear yet whether or not Obama was born to greatness, the international committee along with the rest of the world is sure as hell wholeheartedly trying to thrust greatness upon him.
Larisa Alexandrovna has hit it right on the mark when she says, ‘When that recipient happens to be the leader of a nation - representing his country all over the world - then that honor is also bestowed on the citizens of that nation.’
Yup, Obama didn’t win this Nobel Peace Prize. America did.