Monday, December 14, 2009

David Adler & Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama's Nobel Lecture

They're both on-target here, as is often true in both cases. (I will even forgive Coates for using the trendy but irritatingly stupid and conceptually misleading word "meme".)

--Jeff Weintraub
David R. Adler (Lerterland)
Friday, December 11, 2009
Obama's Nobel lecture

Ta-Nehisi Coates nails it:
[First, a paragraph Adler didn't quote:] After an entire campaign season where Obama was dismissed as a far-left radical, the new meme became that he was actually firmly entrenched in the "right wing of the Democratic party." Now I'm hearing people say that Obama's speech could have been made by Bush, or some such. [....]

I didn't object to George Bush because he claimed that there was "evil" in the world. I objected to George Bush because there was so much evil that he didn't see, and he was awful at prosecuting the evil he did see. I objected to George Bush's foreign policy because it married a freshman's view of idealism (Big talk on human rights) with a profane, dishonest take one realism (We don't torture.) It's weak to look two presidents, see them both use the word "evil," and then conclude that they're the same.

I expect Obama to be who he campaigned as. But more than that, I expect him to actually think about the world. I expect him to be curious, deliberative, and cool-headed. That's who he is. I often disagree with him. But I don't regret a thing. I don't understand these people. It's like they thought he'd go to Oslo, hand over the launch codes, and offer twenty Texas virgins in exchange for a pledge from Al'Qaeda to stop being mean to us.
In the end, no, Obama did not merit the Nobel, but on account of the newness of his presidency (as he himself said), not on account of his principled use of military force. But to those on the left who scoff at a wartime president receiving a peace prize: it is far more outrageous that John Pilger and Arundhati Roy, both deeply unprincipled and unmoored advocates of violence from the left, received the Sydney Peace Prize.