Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dynamite Barack

I was a bit stunned when I read about Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. My reactions (in order) were: what??? – then great!! – and well, there could be a backlash here. And oh yes also, I thought, Bill Clinton must be fuming (and that made me laugh…).

The main explanation for the Prize seems to be around providing encouragement to Obama for him to continue the good work he has started, especially around putting diplomacy back in the picture front and center (a stark departure from his predecessor) and making early efforts on nuclear weapons reduction (ongoing negotiations with Iran). Obviously, we should not forget how appalling the image of the US overseas was when Bush was around and how that has changed in not even a year. Now, I can’t say that the other accomplishments measure up with those of previous winners but yes, I get it, it is about encouraging him.

It has been interesting recently, including following the skit on Saturday Night Live (SNL) last week during which the actor playing Obama essentially said that he had done nothing since becoming a President, to start hearing here and there (among his supporters too) that actually, not much had been accomplished since January. Those same folks seem to agree that a lot has been started but are we seeing results? Don’t want to get into this question now (I actually think there have been some significant accomplishments though I have my frustrations with this administration) but my point is that the tremendous pressure that comes naturally out of receiving such a high honor will only be compounded by this insidious impression circulating that we have not seen much yet. And this could create a backlash for Obama.

PS. For the intellectuals among you, you will have noticed the oh so subtle reference to Alfred Nobel in the title of this posting, the inventor of dynamite and creator of the Nobel Prizes. But the Peace Prize is actually awarded by Norway now (not Sweden) – so yeah, you can call me on that one…

Oh by the way, talking about intellectuals and subtle references, one of my students used the word “self-effacement” the other day – that was nice. Rarely hear that word mentioned – maybe a combination of lack of vocabulary and lack of self-effacement…

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