By Max J. Castro
The right wing in the United States took a perverse glee at the early elimination of Chicago as the site of the 2016 Olympic Games. They laughed and cheered upon learning that President Barack Obama’s trip to Copenhagen, to plead the case for his adopted city, went for naught. That’s a curious reaction for a bunch of flag waving super-patriots.
Alas, their joy was short-lived. Before the claque of reactionaries could wipe their tears from laughing came another announcement, this time from Oslo. Barack Obama had been selected for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
The mean-spirited, sour grapes reactions were not long in coming. How low did they stoop? Rush Limbaugh said he agreed with the Taliban that Obama did not deserve the award. Rush, you are our Taliban-in-chief.
The selection of Barack Obama sent a clear message from the world to the United States. It’s not a lose-lose proposition when it comes to U. S. dealings with the other nations on this planet. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind” (in word and deed) is all that is needed. It shall receive its just rewards.
With a few exceptions, the Republicans, with their sour grapes reaction, are looking childish and small. Who is in the anti-American camp now?
Obama is just beginning his work, but already he has a list of accomplishments that compare well with his predecessor’s numerous debacles. Torture has been banned. Guantánamo will be closed. Science is no longer the enemy of the state. An olive branch has been extended to the Arabs. Some of the most absurd elements of Cuba policy have been discontinued. What to do in Afghanistan is being decided not by a shoot-from-the-hip approach but through rigorous deliberation.
Social justice is a necessary condition for a true peace. At home, through the SCHIP Act, health insurance has been extended to millions of children. The right to fair treatment has been granted to women through the Liddy Ledbetter law. One could go on and on. None of this could have been accomplished with Bush or a Republican successor in the White House. Bush actually vetoed a children’s health bill that had passed Congress with strong bipartisan support.
Much more needs to be done, but the trajectory is clear. The Nobel Committee judged that what has already been achieved is worthy of being honored. No doubt there is in this award a dose of encouragement meant to spur Obama to greater accomplishments in meeting the daunting challenges before him. That, too, is a good thing. He will need all the support he can get.