The Republicans and Al Qaeda say President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. A former Peace Prize winner says he does.
“In less than a year, with his inspiring messages of humility, dialogue and peace, President Obama has significantly lessened the tensions in the world, in the Middle East (University of Cairo speech), in relations with Russia, Iran, Venezuela,” Jose Ramos-Horta recently wrote on the Huffington PostInternet website. “President Obama’s conciliatory approach, the depth of his intellect and vision of peace, have won over many millions of people.”
Ramos-Horta is president of East Timor. He received his peace prize in 1996.
“By giving hope to the millions of disfranchised, the poor and the angry in Middle East, Asia and Africa, President Obama has begun to drain the swamp in which Al Qaeda and other extremist groups operate and recruit,” he added. “One should not underestimate the power of President Obama’s oratory and conciliatory approach; it has had the effect of, at least, rescuing many young and angry from sliding further into extremism.”
Maybe that’s why Al Qaeda denounced the awarding of this year’s Peace Prize to Obama. The Republicans and Rush Limbaugh, the de facto GOP head, piled on, claiming the honor is a fraud and an embarrassment.
The Democrats shot back, pointing out that the Taliban and Hamas also were in high dudgeon over the prize going to Obama. “The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists…,” said a statement from Brad Woodhouse, Democratic National Committee communications director. “Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize — an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride — unless of course you are the Republican Party.”
Woodhousereloaded and fired again: “The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It’s no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore – it’s an embarrassing label to claim.”
It’s not embarrassing to Limbaugh and his soul-mates who rule the Republican roost. You can’t shame them.
They operate by two simple rules. First, if Obama’s for it, they’re against it, and vice versa. Second, never, ever, give the president credit for anything, even if it means agreeing with America’s mortal enemies.
Remember Sen. Jim Demint’s perhaps too candid comment on health care reform? “If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo,” the South Carolina Republican gleefully predicted. “It will break him.”
Handing Obama a world of Waterloos is the Limbaughite Republican M.O.
But the Limbaughites are scared stiff they met their Waterloo last November. They worry Obama is the future and they are the past.
Limbaugh bloviates. His “tea bagger” buddies whoop and holler. It’s just bluster.
The tea parties are more than Obama trash fests. They are group hug sessions for angst-ridden “birthers,” “deathers,” gun nuts, neo-Confederates, homophobes, religious bigots, union-bashers, loopy libertarians and assorted other right-wing crazies that make up much of the GOP’s base these days.
Of course, consequential presidents are always controversial. They excite strong passions. It was hard for the body politic to get too worked up over, say, Millard Fillmore or Chester A. Arthur.
It’s the great presidents who generate great fervor. Most Americans loved two of our greatest: Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
But those who hated them hated them viscerally. “I should relish his groans and agonies if I could see him put to torture in hell or anywhere else,” a pro-slavery Kentuckian said of Lincoln. “He has chosen to become the representative of the Republican Party and as such I should like to hang him.”
Father Charles Coughlin, the anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi father of hate radio and Limbaugh’s spiritual forebear, loathed FDR. Coughlin accused the president of “leaning toward international socialism or sovietism.” I could retire if I had a dime for every time I’ve heard Limbaugh and his sidekicks call Obama a “socialist.”
It’s way too early to say Obama’s another Lincoln or a Roosevelt. But his election was consequential.
Meanwhile, I’m going to keep saying it as long as the Limbaughites – almost all of them white folks — keep denying it: they hate this president mainly because he’s not a white guy.
Nearly every one of the tea party goers is white. That’s not a coincidence.
The Limbaughites just can’t accept the fact that America elected an African American president. In desperation, they have tried to de-legitimize his presidency by claiming he’s not really an American. It’s a convenient way to slam him without overtly playing the race card. Of course, they say he was born in Africa.
Anyway, we history teachers are prone to use the past to help explain the present. The Limbaughites remind me of slave state whites in 1860. The election of President Abraham Lincoln that year signaled a big change was coming, a change the white supremacists despised: slavery was on the way out.
The white folks in 11 slave states seceded from the Union because they were sure that Lincoln and the “Black Republicans” were about to free the slaves. They lost the Civil War.
The Obama haters fear they are losing, too. They wait in mortal dread for other shoes to drop: Obama gets a health care bill. The economy perks up. The Democrats win big next November. Obama wins another term in 2012.
Berry Craig is the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo.