A Quick Note on President Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

1. Less to do with politics, more to do with punditry: Jonah Goldberg, whose opinion on Glenn Beck I not only think ill-informed but actually dangerous, has said something incredibly wise about President Obama’s receiving the Peace Prize. From NRO’s “The Corner:”

The only thing that really bothers me is that this comes just days after the Obama administration turned a blind eye to the Dalai Lama and told the world that it’s at least considering a separate peace with the Taliban. That’s grotesque. Meanwhile, there are real peace activists and dissidents out there whose dungeons will stay just as cold and dark for another year because of this. Indeed, this news comes during a year when the Iranian people rose up against tyranny and were crushed. Surely someone in Iran — or maybe the Iranian protestors generally — could have benefitted more from receiving the prize than a president who, so far, has done virtually nothing concrete for world peace.

He says this after not blaming the President for having received the prize: “This says vastly, vastly, more about the Nobel committee than it does about Obama.”

Rarely do I run into any opinions that actually show sympathy for people – this one manages to show some sympathy for the President and the people who should have gotten the prize. As for what happens when you get a prize you don’t deserve, sometimes you turn it down, but in this case, I think taking the $1.4 million and delivering an ironic speech would be appropriate.

Also, Mr. President, start cutting back on the Bush-bashing, and fast: it is very clearly a religion for some people, and probably what got you into this situation. Still, congratulations: some honor is better than nothing.

2. Oh, I was asked about Glenn Beck and Rush and the convergence of politics and populism in the comments. I think this answer will suffice: there hasn’t been anything intellectual about conservatism for a long time. A better narrative is instead of holding up certain conservatives as geniuses, to say this: there are/have been glimmers of thoughtfulness. At times, Bill Buckley and Irving Kristol and the rest managed to reflect on some heady issues and had interesting things to say. But truth be told, I don’t know all that much, and I yet I manage to reflect (in a mangled way that may/may not be improving) on Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Thucydides, the Federalist, Lincoln, Jefferson, Yeats, Dickinson, Frost, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Auden, and a host of others. Either I’m a genius, or the label “intellectual” is being used by people who have no business using it. I think the latter is the appropriate explanation: the shallowness of conservative thought nowadays is on display always, we tend to ignore that shallowness because we ascribe our knowledge to the sentiments others express. Read more literally and it becomes clear there are a lot of dumb people out there.

As for Beck, he’s dangerous, and thus it doesn’t matter whether he’s right on an issue or two. The overall effect is bad for everyone involved: only his wallet is benefiting without consequence.


  1. I don’t know who Jonah Goldberg is and I’ve actually never heard a thing Glenn Beck has said- yeah, I’ve almost completely isolated myself- but you’re right. What he said is right on the money. The first mentioning of Obama’s Nobel Prize I read mentioned a guy who was also nominated who basically spent all of his time and money getting funds to open schools for girls in areas where they had not been allowed. Compare that to Obama and it’s nothing but funny. Well, sad and funny. And there are so many more obviously much much more deserving candidates.

    On your point #2: those people are the reason I’ve forsaken every media outlet but the internet. There is nothing intellectual about ranting and raving and soliciting ratings. With a few (noted) exceptions everything they say is reactionary and… crazed for lack of a better word (ugh, what is that word I’m looking for?). I suppose in other words- it’s all a show. Or most of it is.

  2. I have never watched Beck but I never see his work in print so it must not be important. As for your assertion of conservatives being brain dead, Bill Kristol, Barry Rubin, Victor Hanson, Melanie Philips and others clearly demonstrate the movement has substantial thinkers.

    Or as I tell my counterparts on the left, you have your idiots and we have ours. The modern shrieking match that embodies our politics adds nothing to the publick (sic) good.

  3. LOL, Mary did you want to know the definition? I found it for you:

    Main Entry: re·ac·tion·ary
    Pronunciation: \rē-ˈak-shə-ˌner-ē\
    Function: adjective
    Date: 1840

    : relating to, marked by, or favoring reaction; especially : ultraconservative in politics

    — reactionary noun

    — re·ac·tion·ary·ism \-ˌi-zəm\ noun

    Amusingly exactly what I meant.

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