When I saw this morning's top New York Times headline -- "Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize" -- I had the same immediate reaction which I'm certain many others had: this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website, that it was just some sort of strange joke someone was playing.I believe Glen Greenwald's reaction was pretty much the same as the one I had when I was at my parent's yesterday for lunch as the comittee's decision was announced on the radio. My Mom looked at me and simply said, "for what? Is this is a joke? What has Obama actually done to deserve this award?". Now, my mother is one who doesn't waste time being polite and cuts right through any type of bullshit. I swear to god(s), she is the human equivalent to a lie detector, without the cute English accent that we have come to expect from Tim Roth on Lie To Me.
On the other side of the table, my Dad took a sip of mineral water, and said, "it's because he isn't Bush". And yes, that pretty much encapsulates the general feeling in Germany as I have seen it in the past day. He hasn't done anything. He's been given it because he isn't Bush.
How pathetic is that? Have we put the bar so low now that a guy can win what is still considered (despite numerous instances in the past where similar decisions by the Nobel committee has resulted in a similar round of what the fuck were they thinking? reactions) the most important and most prestigious global political award by doing nothing? What is this award been given for? The best dinner speech? Because that is what he's done so far. Given speeches. Good ones, too, especially compared to the unintentional rape of the English language that Bush became famous for. The Cairo speech. The speech in front of the gates of Buchenwald. The speech at the UN. Good, solidly constructed speeches all. And as somebody who works with words myself, I was suitably impressed by all of them.
But what has Obama done? Seriously. Like that other "soft" Nobel, the one for literature, the Peace Nobel has become nothing more than a Sally Field moment on the global stage, "you must like me, you really must like me". Awwww. And while the African American community is still looking at Obama through their rose-tinted glasses of we finally have one of our own in the White House, that historic achievement means little outside the United States. Sorry, guys, it doesn't. Actions speak louder than words, and Obama's actions have been... well, if one examines them closely, they are exactly like those of George W. Bush.
In Bangkok, the climate crisis negotiations leading up to Copenhagen have been nothing but being undermined by the American delegation, putting demand upon demand on the rest of the world. Climate crisis, eh? It's still a problem for the rest of us, but merely a theological issue in American government, it appears. But wait! Didn't Obama close Guantamo Bay? Uh. No. He announced he would close it by the end of the year. Guess what? It's still there, and recently it was announced that the deadline? Oh, shucks, we'll blow it. We don't know when it will be closed. But what about the Patriot Act? He got rid of that, didn't he? He said so in his campaign! Uh, no, the Obama government will in all likelihood keep the most unconstitutional law, shoved through Congress in the hours and days filled with fear after 9/11, intact when it comes up for renewal. Wiretaps? Hell, we like them! FISA? What the hell is that? Don't bother me, commie! Torture? Why do it yourself when we can still practice rendition? We can still have our cake, and eat it, too! Stopping illegal Israeli settlements? Nah. Standing up for civil liberties for gay people in the US? Implementing rules and regulations to prevent another financial crisis? Fuck you, you already voted for me, nyah nyah nyah.
No, what Obama has done amounts to an extraordinary pile of shit so far. I didn't know shit could be piled up this high. And the Obama apologists only look reasonable compared to the nutjobs on the right, who think the bible is too liberal (and want to change it, no shit) and who still have a serious problem with one of them occupying the White House. Hey! It's called the White House, okay? They shouldn't be occupying that at all, maybe do the gardening, yeah (Michelle does that already), but what they hell are they doing in there, eh? Of course those nutjobs would never call them by the name that is running through their heads when they say it. But what, the hell, I'll do it for them. What's the nigger doing there? And just like a good nigger, Obama has been nothing but submissive to them (and that still isn't enough to those folks, and guess what? It never will be enough, not until he's got his ass handed to him, and he's out of that building)
In the hopefully soon immortal words of Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, Mr. President, now that you have accepted the Nobel (you could have declined it, you know, and said that you are not yet worthy of this honour), it's time to nut up or shut up.
Earn it, or have your ass handed to you in the words of The Who very soon...