Saturday, October 10, 2009

Making it worse? Really?

Yesterday's White House press briefing was pretty lively, with, as one might imagine, plenty of questions about the Nobel Peace Prize. CBS News' Chip Reid's interests stood out, but not in a good way. (via BarbinMD)

Reid said, "I mean, most Democrats have praised it, and most Republicans have said, 'You have got to be kidding me -- Ronald Reagan didn't get one, but Barack Obama, nominated 12 days after he was sworn in, gets a Nobel Peace Prize.' And the fear among some, even some Democrats, is that this is going to widen the partisan divide and make things even more difficult to accomplish on every front."
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to move on, responding, "I'll leave the pundicizing to the pundits." But Reid wasn't through, complaining that the award itself may be "a partisan thing," because previous winners include Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. Gibbs noted that Teddy Roosevelt also won, and again tried to move on.
Reid kept pushing. "But Ronald Reagan, could I just ask you to respond to that?" the corresponded added. "The man who helped bring the Cold War to an end...."
A few thoughts here. First, when White House correspondents from major news outlets start sounding like members of Grover Norquist's "We Love Reagan" fan club, it's not a positive development.
Second, the notion that Reagan "helped bring the Cold War to an end" is, at best, a dubious proposition.
And third, Reid's fears that a Nobel prize the president did not seek might "widen the partisan divide and make things even more difficult to accomplish on every front" are almost comical. It reminded me of the scene in "Life of Brian" when Matthias says, "Look, I don't think it should be a sin, just for saying 'Jehovah.'" Shocked, the official overseeing his execution says, "You're only making it worse for yourself!' To which Matthias responds, "Making it worse? How can it be worse?"
At this point, Republicans reflexively oppose every single policy Democrats embrace. The GOP has even decided to reject ideas they originally came up with. They're running a scorched earth campaign ... and Chip Reid thinks an unsolicited Nobel Peace Prize will make it "even more difficult" for the parties to find common ground?
Making it worse? How can it be worse?

As if to prove Steve's point, heeeeerrrrre's Steele . . .
Shortly after Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele blasted the U.S. president. It was widely seen as an unseemly attack, even generating criticism from conservatives like Pat Buchanan and GOP operative Scott Reed, the latter of whom said Steele "should not have done that." For its part, the DNC noted the similarities between Steele's criticism of the president and the Taliban's.
Last night, Steele doubled down, sending out a fundraising appeal to RNC members, telling them that the Nobel Peace Prize has become "meaningless." Responding to the DNC's criticism, Steele (or, more accurately, the staffer who writes these letters) wrote:
[W]hen challenged to answer the question of what the president has accomplished, Democrats are lashing out calling Republicans terrorists. That type of political rhetoric is shameful.
The Democrats and their international leftist allies want America made subservient to the agenda of global redistribution and control. And truly patriotic Americans like you and our Republican Party are the only thing standing in their way. [emphasis in the original]
So, in one sentence, Steele is outraged by "shameful" incendiary rhetoric. In the next sentence, Democrats and international leftists "want America made subservient to the agenda of global redistribution and control."
It's almost whiplash inducing.
As for the bigger picture, we've reached an interesting time in partisan politics. At RNC headquarters, the day the U.S. president wins the Nobel Peace Prize, their first reaction is to attack. Their second reaction is to ask for more money as a symbolic protest of the president's latest honor.
NYT Editorial: The Peace Prize 
President Obama responded to the news of his Nobel Peace Prize the right way. He said he was humbled, acknowledged that the efforts for which he was honored are only beginning and pledged to see them through, not on his own but in concert with other nations.
There cannot have been unbridled joy in the White House early Friday. Mr. Obama’s aides had to expect a barrage of churlish reaction, and they got it. The left denounced the Nobel committee for giving the prize to a wartime president. The right proclaimed that Mr. Obama sold out the United States by engaging in diplomacy. Members of the dwindling band of George W. Bush loyalists also sneered — with absolutely no recognition of their own culpability — that Mr. Obama has not yet ended the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq.
Certainly, the prize is a (barely) implicit condemnation of Mr. Bush’s presidency. But countering the ill will Mr. Bush created around the world is one of Mr. Obama’s great achievements in less than nine months in office. Mr. Obama’s willingness to respect and work with other nations is another.
Mr. Obama has bolstered this country’s global standing by renouncing torture, this time with credibility; by pledging to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; by rejoining the effort to combat climate change and to rid the world of nuclear weapons; by recommitting himself to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and by offering to engage Iran while also insisting that it abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Mr. Obama did not seek the prize. It is a reminder of the extraordinarily high expectations for any American president — and does bring into sharp focus all that he has left to do to make the world, and this country, safer.
In Iraq, Mr. Obama is still a long way from managing an orderly withdrawal that does not leave a power vacuum and inflame a volatile region. He must decide, soon, on a strategy for Afghanistan that will do what Mr. Bush failed to do — defeat Al Qaeda and contain the Taliban — without miring American and allied troops in an endless unwinnable conflict.
To make real progress toward Mr. Obama’s declared goal of a world without nuclear weapons, the United States and Russia must both agree to deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals. If, as we suspect, Iran refuses to give up its illicit nuclear activities, Mr. Obama will have to press the rest of the world’s big powers to impose tough sanctions. He must come up with a more effective strategy to roll back North Korea’s nuclear program.
While he has made an excellent start on climate change with new regulations that finally begin to grapple with carbon emissions, the United States has to lead the way to a global agreement.
Mr. Obama is going to have to overcome narrow-minded opposition in Congress to keep his promise to close Guantánamo and deal with its inmates in a way consistent with the Constitution and American values. He has much more to do to erase the worst excesses of Mr. Bush in detaining prisoners without charges and flaunting the Geneva Conventions.
Americans elected Mr. Obama because they wanted him to restore American values and leadership — and because they believed he could. The Nobel Prize, and the broad endorsement that followed, shows how many people around the world want the same thing.
Words from the world:
Mohamed Elbaradei, the director-general of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, who received the prize in 2005, said in a statement that he was “absolutely delighted.” “I cannot think of anyone today more deserving of this honor,” he said. “In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself.”

President Shimon Peres of Israel, sent a letter to President Obama on Friday morning, saying: “Very few leaders if at all were able to change the mood of the entire world in such a short while with such a profound impact. You provided the entire humanity with fresh hope, with intellectual determination, and a feeling that there is a lord in heaven and believers on earth.”

President Sarkozy: "The award marks America's return to the heart of the people of the world."

No comments:

Post a Comment