Friday, October 9, 2009

An aspirational prize.

The kids will always get it right.  You got a prize Daddy…but remember it’s the dog’s birthday and a
three day weekend from school. 
Translation.  Time to have
breakfast and get on with life. 
His brief statement invited no questions from the press.  Undaunted, one could be heard shouted
out as he walked back to the Oval. 
“What are you going to do with the money?”  Doesn’t that perfectly sum up the level to which much of the
“journalism” has fallen these days? 
Every once in a while a “lifetime achievement” award is given to someone
in early or midstream career.  How
to react? Like Malia and Sasha. 
Time to get back to life, back to work.

A Nobel at this juncture is much more campaign than governing appropriate
– it is a hope, an aspiration, for what might come.  Pundits on the right like Bill Kristol and on the left like
Nick Kristof (it pains me to put their names in the same sentence as if they
were somehow equivalent) question this seemingly premature award for predictably
different reasons.  But in some
respects they miss what the Nobel judges often do in seeking to use this high
profile symbol as more of a light on the path ahead than on the one already
traveled.  Everything is politics,
everything a campaign and this august body is not immune from trying to
influence the game.

Obama’s statement was measured, full of familiar phrases from a man
who some (not me) think comes before us too often.  I’d rather see a leader than have him hide in the rarified
bubble of power.  My major take away
from this particular statement was a reminder planted deep in the text. A
sitting president is commander
in chief
.  Peace Prizes
notwithstanding, he has more power to go to war than to bring about peace.  Sadly war takes only a command and is
too easily and readily justified. 
Obama inherited his wars, but that doesn’t get him off the hook.  Perhaps the speed with which the Nobel
folks acted shows how fast our world is moving and also that presidential
honeymoons are more part of our past folklore than of today’s reality.  The watch and all the responsibility starts on
day one.

Peace takes a lot of work and to a degree far more courage than
war.  In this “God blessed” country,
presidents sometimes have to defend their reaching out an olive branch much
more that rattling the sword.  We
all know where peace is needed. 
It’s easy to feel that the prize has put a special burden on Barack
Obama to reach with that branch and turn the spears and swords into pruning
hooks.  But he will depend on us to
support that effort.  I think he’s
up to the task.  I’m not always
sure about us.

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