Tipping Hat to Powerline: Recognizing My Obama Nobel Prize Arguments

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nobel-medal_thumbnail_0.jpgI have to confess. I read Powerline and have particularly enjoyed the writing of Paul Mirengoff who is a sharp intellectual usually committed to just about everything I’m not.
Powerline has just bestowed two awards on my CNN comment on Obama’s Nobel Prize. Mirengoff made it a runner’s up to the “silliest writing of 2008” which he gave my piece on suggesting that Caroline Kennedy be made US Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s or some other spot as a way out of the New York Senate seat drama. I stand by my piece then but enjoyed Paul poking at it.
I stand by my CNN piece on Obama as well. I’m a frequent critic of the Obama team’s tactics — but I still have confidence in the President’s overall foreign policy course. Obama quickly changed the optics of the global order — and for Paul and his colleagues to so quickly disparage that accomplishment — I’d only remind them of Karl Rove’s spin-meistering in the George W. Bush White House and comments like, “We make our own reality.”
But I like this sort of debate and appreciate Powerline recognizing my work with both good humor and a predictably alternative take.
And thanks to Paul Rahe for acknowledging that I provided the only conceivable rationale explaining why President Obama should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (not looking for a job with the administration though Paul — ruined that with less flattering pieces on the administration’s tactical performance).
And I had a third fun note this weekend as well from Jungle Jim of Provocateur. He wrote that I had won the Socialist Moonbat of the Week Award for my CNN piece — and was kind enough to send me a congratulatory note which I received while listening to powerful remarks from Desmond Tutu being read at opening of Equality March on Washington ceremonies.
Thanks to all of you — you handled your differences with me with class and good humor.
Now we just need some of your readers to act similarly as my email is filled with some of the most vile, degrading hate mail I have ever received.
But the delete key works well — and I appreciate the hard right taking an interest in stuff here at The Washington Note.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

19 comments on “Tipping Hat to Powerline: Recognizing My Obama Nobel Prize Arguments

  1. David says:

    Mantle, dammit, although FDR’s fireside chats did involve a mantel, but that’s a different thread.

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  2. David says:

    nadine,
    You have a rather narrow, now outdated, generally useless definition of world leadership. Obama stands on the threshhold of a new American leadership on the global stage, the only positive mantel now available to us. W buried any possibility of previous US power on the global stage in a very deep hole.
    And we can manufacture weapons, develop technologies, weaponize space, continue to pour more of our national wealth into military delusions than most of the rest of the planet combined if we want to guarantee our own demise.
    We either adopt a new posture, namely open-handed smart power, or we complete Bush the Lesser’s demolition of the United States as a worthy world leader. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow isn’t going to be yesterday redux for America. It might be America trying to resurrect old ways. If so, kiss a positive tomorrow goodbye, and while you’re at it, watch the ice caps melt.

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  3. ... says:

    nadine – dropping white phosphorous on ones neighbour is operating on the very lowest level of behavior… israel can never be a leader of the free world with actions like that….

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  4. nadine says:

    When Obama was asked if he believed in American exceptionalism, he replied that he thought America was exceptional, just as the British believe in British exceptionalism and the Germans believe in German excceptionalism.
    If everybody is exceptional, then nobody is exceptional. Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism.
    How can America be a leader if no nation can tell another when to do? Obama’s idea of leadership is for America to make unilateral concessions, such as the missile shield, and wait for Russia to reciprocate. Likewise with Iran – Iran wanted time and talks with no preconditions – they got them. Have you seen the Russians or the Iranians reciprocate? Don’t hold your breath, that’s not how these guys operate.
    If by “leader” you mean the guy who manages the meetings at the UN where a bunch of nations agree to the lowest common denominator of behavior, I suppose Obama can be a leader. But “leader of the Free World”? No.

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  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But the communications strategy the right followed when bombarding left-leaning web sites last week was not to advertise their hatred of non-proliferation, but to hide behind their “Obama hasn’t done anything” line, which is the opposite of the truth on the non-proliferation front, but which could be expected to gain some traction among progressives who only pay attention to Israel and US Middle East wars, and neglect almost every other part of international relations”
    You gotta be kidding me. Care to tell me what other arena on the globe has American kids dying, huge sums of money being spent?
    What? If we ignore the Middle East and Israel, THEN Obama deserves the prize?
    Geez Dan, your post blows my mind.
    Yeah, Obama is doing GREAT on non-proliferation, if we ignore the giant diplomatic blunder he just committed by agreeing to the status quo stance on Israeli nukes. He might just as well have said “Fuck you Iran, we WILL NOT negotiate in good faith”. Meanwhile, every chance Hillary gets, she makes sure to say, basically, “Yeah, we’ll talk, but it won’t do any good”
    And hey, he’s doing just dandy on peacemaking too. If we just erase Pakistan and Afghanistan from the equation.
    And on human rights, he’s just a whiz kid, if we ignore his efforts to bury the Goldstone report.
    Yeah, lets just ignore the Middle East and how Israel figures into it, so we can rationalize Obama’s “winning” of this “prize”.
    Unfrickin’ believable.
    Its like saying Bush was a great President, if we just ignore 9/11, Iraq, domestic spying, and torture.
    Gonzales was a great AG too, if we just ignore the law.
    And Obama really deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, if we just ignore the Middle East.

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  6. David says:

    Not quite, Nadine. He has stated that we are an exceptional nation with exceptional obligations, a leader. But you are correct that he has rejected Cheney/Bush hegemonism. And that is a reason he was awarded the Nobel Prize. He is in a position to influence significantly the quest for global peace. In fact, as commander-in-chief of the world’s hegemonic military, he has the power, if his authority withstands the various assaults, to do more than any other single world leader to move the world in a more peaceful direction.
    Two obvious problems – Iraq and Afghanistan – and a third for good measure – Israel/Palestine. But no other leader has anything resembling the American president’s role in all three, for obvious reasons.

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  7. nadine says:

    Dan, Obama is not the leader of the Free World. He has quite explicitly disavowed the post. He has made in clear that America is just another country now, not exceptional, not a leader or hegemon.
    Isn’t this the very change in optics that the Nobel Prize committee rewarded?

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  8. Bart says:

    Saints preserve us! I prefer the aggressive posts from last week.

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  9. Clint says:

    I disagreed with what you had to say, but it was at least rationally argued and presented – certainly not worthy of being panned.

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  10. Jan says:

    Thank you for your sense of humor. Most Powerline readers abhor the type of vitriol you have endured. In fact, we usually have learned, thru Powerline, to be tolerant of many different points of view. I, for one, have enjoyed your.

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  11. David says:

    Missed out on most of the commentary on Obama’s Nobel, but I expected the Republican rants and the questions from the left, so since it seemed pretty obvious why he was awarded the Nobel (thanks for the especially useful commentary, Dan), I decided to let the rantings fall on other eyes and ears.
    Gotta love the hate mail, Steve. Used to be hate phone calls back in the day, when a group of faculty with me as the most visible of the lot showed THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (with symposium) at Lake-Sumter Community College. The faculty secretary, a Jimmy Carter Southern Baptist, graciously took all my phone calls at the college and screened the hate calls.
    My home phone was unlisted, but the president of a local bank happened to share my name, and it is my understanding that he was subjected to hate calls.
    Ne illegitimi non carborundum, and with your signature smile, Steve. You really do bring a much-appreciated level of class to the world of American political commentary.

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  12. ... says:

    good job and attitude steve.. those on the far right will always be offended, when they aren’t being offensive…

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  13. kurt says:

    Steve — I have never read your blog prior to it
    being linked to on Powerline. I find your
    graciousness noteworthy in comparison to the vitriol
    and lack of intellectual dishonesty that passes for
    commentary these days. I look forward to reading
    your blog in the future and really look forward to
    the day I may agree with something you write.

    Reply

  14. Zathras says:

    Actually, I thought the Powerline types would have recognized without difficulty that President Obama could never have won a Nobel Prize had he not been George W. Bush’s successor in the White House. Whatever the specific rationale(s) offered by Nobel committee members, that’s what it boils down to.
    I don’t think the Peace Prize itself is worth the reverence with which it is sometimes regarded; no prize or award that has to be given out every year is. I hope the folks at the White House understand that quite a few American Presidents have been well-regarded overseas, and in Europe particularly. There really isn’t anything too special about that. The necessary condition for this Nobel was the intense hostility with which Obama’s predecessor was regarded in a distressing number of foreign countries.
    That really was something new; the usual pattern is for American Presidents to receive a certain amount of public respect overseas even when they are unpopular at home. The conservative reaction to foreign audiences having a low opinion of Bush has mostly been to disparage foreign audiences. It is a reaction they will want to reconsider in the months and years ahead. The Republican Party could never have revived itself in the late 1970s if it had clung to an image as the party of Watergate; its future now will be bleak in direct proportion to the degree it remains known as the party of Bush — whose failings did more damage to the country than Richard Nixon’s ever did.
    Bush’s detractors here and abroad have many characteristics deserving of criticism, but Republicans need to face squarely what most Americans did some time ago: Bush was a disaster as President. Instead of carping about the Nobel committee’s judgement, conservatives would do better to recognize it for what it was. It was, more than anything, an expression of relief that a President who was no better for most of the world than he was for the United States is gone.

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  15. PD Quig says:

    Over the years following PowerLine, I’ve been very impressed by the generally high level of discourse among commenters. That you would have elicited nasty responses as a result of the PowerLine connection is surprising. Still, political tensions and strife are definitely waxing, so it’s probably to be expected (sadly).
    BTW: my experience on many lefty blogs is that incivility, profanity, and ad hominem attacks of us on the right are virulent and commonplace.

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  16. Paul Norheim says:

    “…but which could be expected to gain some traction among progressives who only
    pay attention to Israel and US Middle East wars, and neglect almost every other
    part of international relations.”
    You certainly have a point, Dan.

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  17. CJ says:

    Steve,
    I’m a libertarian/conservative powerline reader.
    I’d like to thank you for your cogent rationale and your good humor in your dealings with your opponents. Both are greatly appreciated.
    The moonbat and wacko references are hopefully just semi-humorous and not actual ad hominem.
    You certainly don’t deserve abuse for your writings and I’m sorry that such imbeciles agree with me on anything.

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  18. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, I was wondering where all those jokers who showed up last week were coming from.
    Steve says:
    “Obama quickly changed the optics of the global order — and for Paul and his colleagues to so quickly disparage that accomplishment — I’d only remind them of Karl Rove’s spin-meistering in the George W. Bush White House and comments like, “We make our own reality.”
    Well, of course they are going to disparage it, Steve, and quickly too. They don’t like these changes one bit. They don’t think any of them constitute a positive “accomplishment”. In fact, the more Obama actually accomplishes,the more they will disparage the results.
    “And thanks to Paul Rahe for acknowledging that I provided the only conceivable rationale explaining why President Obama should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”
    I would like to remind people once again that the UN Security Council had just passed UN 1887 on September 24, at an historic meeting that convened the heads of states of the Council members, and was presided over by President Obama himself, who introduced the resolution calling for a strengthened NPT, a Nuclear Security Summit in 2010, stiffened export and financial controls, and a variety of steps to do more to prevent the transfer of nuclear weapons to terrorists, including threats to take action take action against proliferators that provide nuclear weapons or related material to terrorists.
    The next day he followed this up with a statement with Brown and Sarkozy at the G-20 that explicitly placed the Iran issue in the general framework of non-proliferation, and is helping to build a unified global approach to these interconnected issues. Of course, the nuclear non-proliferation context was almost completely ignored by the Iran-obsessed US press, with their typical general contempt for the UN and international organizations, and their general reluctance to look too closely at the issue of nuclear weapons. But in other parts of the world in which there is stronger and more enduring support for nuclear non-proliferation, people are paying attention.
    Apparently there are still some places in the world where it is still a big deal if the leader of the Free World, and of the country with the most nuclear weapons, decides to lead the charge on realizing the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. It looks like the Nobel Committee might be one place where they still think this is a big deal, which is not surprising since the Scandinavian countries have traditionally been among the world’s leaders on non-proliferation and disarmament issues. How do we know the committee thinks this is a big deal? Oh I don’t know … how about the fact that in the first paragraph of the Committee’s press release they said, “The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons”!
    Of course, Powerline and their ilk absolutely hate this stuff, as they have always hated freezeniks, internationalists and international treaties, non-proliferation and the rest.
    But the communications strategy the right followed when bombarding left-leaning web sites last week was not to advertise their hatred of non-proliferation, but to hide behind their “Obama hasn’t done anything” line, which is the opposite of the truth on the non-proliferation front, but which could be expected to gain some traction among progressives who only pay attention to Israel and US Middle East wars, and neglect almost every other part of international relations.

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  19. Linda says:

    Steve,
    Keep on winning all the awards for at least trying to offer a rational explanation for a puzzling Peace Prize this year.
    If one reviews all the Peace Prize awards over a century, many don’t make sense over time or even at the time they were awarded. It;s just what a few Committee members were thinking at a moment in time.
    So what did you think of the Nobel Prizes in economics?

    Reply

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