by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
October 15, 2009
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- In the past couple of weeks, the pettiness - bordering on anti-Americanism - of the right-wingers has been a sight to behold.
We know that President Barack Obama is inexplicably despised by a small but noisy segment of the American people. But their reactions to the failure of Chicago to win the 2016 Summer Olympics and the surprise award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama were disgusting.
Let's start with the Olympics. President Obama strongly supported his adopted hometown's effort to land the Summer Olympics. He even flew to Copenhagen on the day of the final vote to make one last pitch to the International Olympic Committee.
In the end, Rio de Janeiro was the winner. It wasn't much of a shock, mainly for reasons beyond Obama's control. As Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva pointed out to the IOC in his bid, Brazil now has the 10th biggest economy in the world and is a player on the international stage. While the United States has hosted two Winter Games (Lake Placid in 1980 and Salt Lake City in 2002) and two Summer Games (Los Angeles in 1984 and Atlanta in 1996) in the last three decades, no South American nation has had that opportunity.
That, and the fact that visitors from other nations find it increasingly difficult to enter the United States because of the increased security and visa regulations imposed since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, explain why Chicago did not make the final cut.
But the unseemly thing was the way the far right reacted when the news came that Chicago was the first city to be eliminated in the IOC's balloting.
"The Ego Has Landed - World Rejects Obama, Chicago Out in the First Round," was the headline on The Drudge Report.
"Chicago Loses! Chicago Loses!" screamed the Web site of The Weekly Standard magazine, where they said their newsroom erupted in cheers at the announcement. They changed the headline a short time later without explanation.
"Goodbye, 'Yes We Can.' Hello, 'No, You Can't,'" wrote commentator and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin on her Website. "Like Icarus, President Obama's giddy ego flight has ended with melted wax and fallen wings. This is a big win and a massive relief for taxpayers. But Chicago cronies are not going to take this well. Gird your loins."
"For those of you on the other side of the aisle listening in who are upset that I sound gleeful - I am," said Rush Limbaugh on his radio show. "I don't deny it. I'm happy. Anything that gets in the way of Barack Obama accomplishing his domestic agenda is fine with me... . I don't want Obamacare to succeed. I want national health care, socialized medicine, to fail. I want cap and trade - a national carbon tax emissions policy based on a hoax - I want that to fail. I do not want the government owning car companies. I don't want the government running banks. I don't want the government in charge of loans. I don't want any of it. I want all of that to fail."
The conservative gloating over Obama's "failure" to secure an Olympic bid had barely died down when it revved up again. Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.
"I am both surprised and deeply humbled," Obama said last Friday. "I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership... . I will accept this award as a call to action."
It was the right thing for him to say, since it appears to be an award based more on the world's expectations of what Obama might achieve on issues such as nuclear disarmament, climate change and bringing the United States back into the international community.
"The World Apology Tour yields dividends," wrote Malkin.
"I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota," wrote Erick Erickson at the conservative blog RedState.
"(He) has to turn it down - because it is such a joke - that he'll turn it down and it's the only way for him make a win out of this," said Glenn Beck on his radio show "Only his arrogance will stop him from doing it." Beck also suggested the award be given instead "to the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project because - because of the arrogance ... because of the arrogance of the progressives that thought no one would stand in their way, that he would be able to accomplish everything."
William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, went Beck one better when he said that "if the Norwegians wanted to give the Nobel Peace Prize to an American, it would have been been better to give it to Sen. John McCain for having the guts to push through the surge in Iraq, which has brought relative peace to that country. But that would be overkill."
"I think that everybody is laughing" said Limbaugh. "Our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn't deserve the award. Now that's hilarious, that I'm on the same side of something with the Taliban, and that we all are on the same side as the Taliban."
Most Americans aren't laughing, however. They are disgusted that the conservative movement, such as it is right now, really does hate Obama as much as the Taliban. And it's starting to look like they hate America, too.
In a way, that's why President Obama got the Nobel Prize. He is up against some of the virulent opposition any president has ever seen, but in the short time he has been in office, he has begun to undo the damage that eight years of George W. Bush has done to our national reputation.
He still has so much more to do, but, in the words of John Nichols of The Nation, "if accepting a peace prize makes it harder for Obama to wage unnecessary wars, maintain irresponsible occupations or support bloated Pentagon budgets, so be it."
In time, no one will remember the bleating of Obama's critics. He set out to be a transformational president in a time filled with chaos and trouble, and he's doing as well as can be expected given the enormity of the job. His Nobel Prize is merely a sign that the rest of the world expects a lot from Obama and hopes he can succeed.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for nearly 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com. For extra added thrills, read his ongoing daily blog on The Harvard Classics at http://hclassics15.blogspot.com.