Man, was it a tough week for Republican conservatives. Who thought that hating Barack Obama would be so hard?
First, they had to cheer when America lost the Olympics. Then, they were forced to blast the American president for winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.
The only thing worse for them, as my friend Myles Berkowitz said, is if next week Obama is named Top Chef.
You know it's been hell for them. In one blink, there went their Olympian argument that the world didn't like Barack Obama. The only saving grace for conservatives is that the announcement was made before dawn, so this time no camera caught anyone booing when word came.
But you can't keep a bumfuzzled conservative down, so there they were, playing catch-up everywhere, decrying that it was a disgrace for the president of their country to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. How the American president should actually turn down the Nobel Prize for Peace. Why Rush Limbaugh said he agreed with the Taliban and Iran, not to honor our president.
Oh, sure, I could explain why all this reaction was snotty. But that would be the easy way out. Even your five-year-old niece grasps why it's mean when something nice happens to someone and you don't say, "Congratulations!"
No, instead, I'm going to play a game I love called, "Just Imagine If It Was the Other Way Around."
Just imagine if it was the other way around and George W. Bush had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. (Okay, c'mon, it's just a game.) Here, I'll even make things easy for you -- it could be at any time during his presidency. A month in, eight years. Whenever you like, he's been given the Nobel Prize for Peace.
And then just imagine that Democrats were all over the media blasting it. Whining what a disgrace it was. An embarrassment. How he should turn down the award. And Keith Olbermann started bouncing in his seat, saying that he agreed with the Taliban and Iran. That the President of the United States didn't deserve the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Just imagine all that. What do you think the reaction of Republicans would be about the anti-American commie pinko U.S.-hating traitorous liberals?
The game is easier than you thought, isn't it?!
See, that's the thing. For all the yowling about whether the president of the United States deserved the Nobel Prize for Peace, pretty much everyone missed the larger point.
For starters, it doesn't matter whether he "deserved" it or not. It's an award. Okay, it comes with a million dollars, which is nice, especially during a recession, but the president has said he's giving the money to charity. So, other than that, you just get a medal, diploma and a testimonial. It's like the end of The Wizard of Oz. Basically, all this means is you can boost your speaker's fee. (Yes, you also get respect, but honestly, he's already the Most Powerful Man in the World. The respect box is full.) You don't get more power. You haven't won an election. It won't guarantee you a dinner reservation. You even have to pay for your own trip to Norway. It's just an award that someone gives. It's a very nice award. But it's Just An Award. Like the Tonys, but without Neil Patrick Harris hosting.
But further, for all the debate as to whether President Barack Obama "deserved" the Nobel Prize for Peace, even he said, "I don't feel I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored." Even he said, "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership." So -- there isn't even a debate. He agrees with you! It's just that he was oh-so much more gracious about it. Plus, there's that whole "turning one million dollars over to charity" thing.
And it's not like President Obama gave an award to himself. The Nobel Prize committee, which has been doing this for 109 years, knows the qualifications they're looking for -- agree with their decisions or not. "Deserve" it? I don't think anyone commenting has a clue what the standards are. All we can do is guess. It's a fun debate, but meaningless. They felt the U.S. president was deserving. And it's their football. In the end, it honors the man. It honors the nation.
And that's the larger point that all the bloviating has missed.
The point is that the president of the United States was given one of the most renown honors on the Planet Earth, a recognition of trying to find world peace -- the very thing every beauty queen contestant has ever hoped for -- and conservatives are so consumed with blind hatred that they are unable to accept that we all are honored by this award. And we all are honored by this award whoever receives it, whatever their country, whatever their efforts.
Receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace is A Good Thing. There will always be people more deserving and less deserving, because the pursuit of world peace has been going on since the beginning of time, and it needs a menagerie of people and organizations and nations always pushing it forward. What matters is being part of the menagerie. But conservatives just couldn't handle that.
Congratulations to the President Barack Obama for receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. May he use it to inspire us all, and to inspire himself to be worthy of its name.
Follow Robert J. Elisberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RobertElisberg