Horribly misinformed or a liar?
Tag: Barack Obama
Obama’s Peace Prize: The Olive Branch
If you’re shocked or confused by the Nobel committee’s decision to give Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, don’t be. It makes perfect sense. They selected him because of his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” In this sense, he has definitely accomplished something and shows promise that he will continue to do so for the next few years.
If you believe that Obama hasn’t done anything to deserve this honor, you’re completely missing the point of the prize. Saying that Obama hasn’t done anything to achieve peace is like saying Bush never did anything to combat terrorism. Sure, Bush ultimately wasn’t able to stop terrorism, but that’s because it can never be stopped. Peace, similarly, can never be fully attained. It’s the efforts towards attaining peace that really matter.
And in that sense, Obama is a champion.
He has accomplished a lot towards peace, no matter what people say.
What do you think the point of an olive branch is? It doesn’t actually do anything. It’s the symbolism that’s important.
Well, Bush spent eight years as the leader of the “greatest free nation” on the planet. What did he do with it? He beat the shit out of the rest of the world with the olive tree.
What has Obama done in the past eight months? He has *tried* to bring about peace, something that will never be truly accomplished. It’s like saying he hasn’t accomplished anything with universal heath care because the law hasn’t been passed.
I think it’s far more important that the international community start recognizing America as one of the leading voices for peace than waiting for Obama to, for example, solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
They gave it to him for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
He has, in fact, done this.
Bush’s speeches in front of the UN were too often contentious, provincial, and self-concerned. Every time he spoke he undid years of progress between our nation and the rest of the world. And that is how the world began to view America.
Obama may not have saved us from ourselves, but no one should expect him to do that. He has, however, thrust America back into its rightful place as one of the leading promoters of peace, which is far more than the war-mongering members of our society will ever achieve. The Nobel committee’s decision does not state that we have achieved peace. What it says is: yes we can.
In Support of Obama’s Worldview
I often get accused of being an Obama worshiper, usually by people that don’t know me. They base that belief purely on me supporting anything he says. Somehow, the fact that I’ve always had a soft spot for the environment means that I can’t agree with the president without appearing to be bowing down at the man’s feet. They think that the president should represent their views, and if he doesn’t represent them perfectly then he isn’t doing a good job.
The reality is that America is a nation of the world, and it is our duty to consider the entire planet when we make certain decisions. We have most of the world’s wealth, an over-abundance of resources, many of the most intelligent and powerful people on the planet, and a military complex unlike any in history. Our behavior affects almost every corner of the world. As the self-proclaimed greatest nation on Earth, it’s our duty to act like it. Our local officials will take care of local issues, our state officials will take care of state issues, our federal officials will take care of federal issues, but our president represents us in the world stage. In order to succeed in the 21st century we have to recognize that we are part of a larger effort. No matter how much we try to isolate ourselves or alienate others, we are inextricably linked to the entire web of life.
We may not (as individuals) like everything that Barack Obama does. There are many things that he has promised that he has yet to deliver. But that’s not entirely his fault. Change comes slowly, especially when there are so many people resistant to it. The fact that he’s doing things I don’t agree with just shows that he’s not simply catering to his base. That’s because he recognizes he is the leader the entire United States, which is a diverse and complex collection of individuals. If all you do is please your political base, then you become as effective a world leader as George W. Bush was.
The Americans that aren’t comfortable with Obama’s inclusive behavior (e.g., speaking in Arabic to Muslims, pronouncing country names in a native dialect, offering to sit down to speak with our rivals) are an increasing minority in our nation. Their xenophobia consistently proves unwarranted and unproductive. Regardless of their protestations, our world continues to progress, our technology reaches almost everyone on the planet, our wars (and peace) spread to other nations, our behavior directly affects the environment, and we are beginning to recognize the interconnectedness of all life on Earth. Like it or not, this nation represents the world.
Obama clearly understands all of these things and has consistently worked towards making these ideals into reality. Though people will fight him every step of the way (and though he may not be able to achieve all of his goals), the important thing is that he continues to aggressively work toward world coherence. As the president of the United States, Obama represents the people of our nation. But as a citizen of the world, Obama represents every person on the planet. One doesn’t have to support the man, but I don’t see how one could not support the message. After all, the message is: peace through cooperation leads to progress. No sane individual could disagree with that.
Q: What has Obama done to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?
Barack Obama is the fourth president to win the Nobel Peace Prize behind Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter. Tell us why YOU think President Obama won this prestigious award.
Is change necessary?
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During his campaign, President Obama [giggle] associated himself with the idea of change. Given the previous eight years, changing the way Americans did things was an obvious choice. I mean, whether or not you agree with how Bush handled the government and the economy, it was clear that something needed to change. Now that change has come to America, there are still some people who claim that change isn’t necessary.
I couldn’t agree more.
No one has claimed that change is always necessary or never necessary. Life isn’t that simple. All things need varying amounts of change.
Here’s a simple analogy…
You’re driving a car on the highway. The passenger suddenly starts yelling that the road ahead will eventually turn into a cliff. Is change necessary?
You’re driving a car on the highway. Suddenly you realize the road ahead is gone and you’re rapidly approaching a cliff. Is change necessary?
And one more…
You’re driving a car that has gone off a cliff. Everyone in the car is yelling. Is change necessary?
Yes We Did!
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I wish I had something more interesting to say, but I’m still a little too excited to make thinky speak. I did notice one thing, though. When Obama gave his soon-to-be historic speech, it was after midnight on the east coast. Think about that for a second.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November.
The Hypocrisy of Hope
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In the 1967 version of In the Heat of the Night, there is a scene where the white police chief Bill Gillespie (played by Rod Steiger) turns to the black detective Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier) and says, “Well, you’re pretty sure of yourself, ain’t you, Virgil. Virgil, that’s a funny name for a nigger boy to come from Philadelphia! What do they call you up there?”
Virgil replies, “They call me Mister Tibbs!”
That moment isn’t significant simply because a black man is defending himself. A line like that is more important in a larger perspective because it was a sign that things were beginning to change. Tibbs didn’t attack Gillespie, he didn’t play the race card, and he didn’t play into any stereotypes. He just defended himself as any human being would.
I don’t think our current presidential race is really about the candidates. I honestly believe that no matter who gets elected, they’re still a puppet controlled by the hand of the government. Sometimes that hand is controlled by the people, sometimes by Congress, and sometimes by the natural forces of society. But the candidate is still a puppet. No matter what their stances are or their personal beliefs, they’re still the leader of ALL of America. They have to make decisions as a leader that they would never make as an individual, and that’s okay because that’s part of being a servant of the people. But they are not the supreme leader that rules this land (like a dictatorship), they are the representative of the people and their needs and desires.
This is important because bullshit “stances” (like where they fit on abortion, gay marriage, the war, etc.) are just that: bullshit. Who cares what the president’s personal beliefs are? If he says red is the best color, all the blue lovers out there would immediately dislike him. I know that’s an oversimplified way to look at it, but not by much. It is absolutely impossible for people to agree on any issue, much less important or controversial ones. The president is here to represent us all, not just my beliefs or your beliefs. As long as they attempt to bridge the gap between the millions of differing opinions, they’re doing their job. And (not to give the pro-war fans any fodder) who knows what information the president has access to that the people will never be given access to? This privileged position dictates that once the president is sworn in, they stop being an individual and start being the head of the entire political body…which is just fine by me. After all, this is still a democracy, right?
Getting to my point, the elections this year are important to me for a specific reason: it’s a barometer for the nation’s mental health. When Bush was elected in 2000, it really didn’t bother me much because the choices were so unclear. I was annoyed, sure, because it seemed like we elected a guy mostly based on the fact that his last name was the same as another (incredibly unsuccessful) president. I mean, really, people mostly voted for Bush because they didn’t like Gore, not because they actually liked or believed in Bush. Most people who voted against Gore did it because he was tied to Clinton, and there were a lot of Clinton-haters on that side of the fence. So our nation was petty? Big deal.
However, when 2004 came around, the world was completely different. We’d gone through the greatest series of crises since the Vietnam War and begun an obviously controversial war that was perpetuated by pure fear. He was clearly incompetent, too stubborn to be a decent leader, and ruled over possibly the most corrupt administration ever. (I know what you’re thinking, and before you jump on me, let’s just wait until history reveals the truth.) More people apparently liked Bush than disliked him, even though the streets were filled with people protesting the war for months. I mean, if over half of the voting population elected him and his approval rating is so consistently low, it means that there was a huge portion of people in our nation that voted for the wrong person. It didn’t bother me that We the People chose the incompetent incumbent over the charmless challenger, it bothered me that we were making that choice based on the wrong things: fear and paranoia.
And so, these days it doesn’t bother me at all when people tell me that Obama has received contributions from special interest groups. You know why? All politicians do it. Yes, even Ron Paul. (His base is the very essence of special interest.) People complain about the apparent lack of substance in this election, but how does that distinguish this election from any other? Everyone talks about idealistic and abstract things while on the campaign trail. That’s how it works.
The truth is, I really don’t care about the individual candidates. Voting is about the voters and will of the people, not the individual candidates and speculation about what they might do once in office. I mean, if everyone would’ve known how huge of a mess the war was going to be, do you really think Bush would’ve been elected? What really matters in an election is what the voters think, not the candidates themselves. Voting is a barometer for our hopes, fears, wants, needs, dreams, and nightmares. And in 2004 we forgot our about our hopes, wants, and dreams and cowered to our fears, needs, and nightmares. After this several-year-long downhill slide, I almost lost faith in America, and I became a genuine advocate for Stephen Colbert for president. I figured that if the electoral system was a joke, why not elect a comedian?
But now that Obama is in the race and the people are starting to rally behind him, I’ve started to feel that hope in humanity I’ve been missing for so long. Of course, there are a lot of people who are voting for him simply because he’s black, a Democrat, not a Republican, from Illinois, good-looking, charismatic, or some other arbitrary reason. But many people are rallying behind the “Yes, we can!” mentality, and that’s what really matters to me. There will always be those jaded people who feel compelled to disparage hope and idealism. I pity these people. Anyone who mocks idealism is too jaded for their own good. What is the point of hope if not to inspire?
Clinton would be an excellent choice, but I fear the pseudo-support that comes from the meaningless legacy vote (just like Bush in 2000). McCain would also be a great choice because he’s honest and reliable, but even a sturdy train is dangerous when it’s riding on uneven tracks. But I have been watching Obama since I first saw him campaigning for the House of Representatives in 2000. I remember thinking, “That guy should run for president.” And when he gave the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 2004 I thought, “Obama is going to run for president.” Now, every time I listen to him speak, read about him, or see how my brothers and sisters of America react to him, all I can think is, “Barack is going to be president!” If voting is the barometer of the people, then it looks like the clouds of fear and paranoia might be starting to break. The candidates could all be four-armed axe-wielding Gorläg demons for all I care, as long it means that America is finally doing something about its problems rather than simply complaining about them, or worse, pretending that everything is just fine.
Are there things about Obama I don’t like? Oh, sure. Are there things he believes in that I don’t agree with? Absolutely. Will he be the best choice for president? Possibly. Will he only make decisions that I agree with? No way. But, will I encourage people to vote for him? With every tool I have at my disposal. Why? Because I have faith in humanity, and I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t vote for hope.
© 1999-2022 Eric P. Metze