Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Tag: barack obama

You won the Nobel Peace Prize. Defend yourself!

Column two that I didn’t post yesterday.

The last 10 years have been revolutionary for the science of baseball. The best team, it turns out, doesn’t always win, according to the number-crunchers. The winners just get lucky in October. The World Series title doesn’t really mean anything—it’s just won, year in and year out, by the team with the best combination of luck and skill in October.

This puts the fans of some World Series winners in a bind. You’ve won, the writers say, Now defend yourself. How could you be better than team X? Well, you’d say, we beat them. They would have a simple response: So what?

Today, the President of the United States won the Nobel Peace Prize and he is being asked to defend himself. For an award. Bestowed upon him.

At the press conference just now, a reporter actually asked press secretary Robert Gibbs if the award was based on talk more than action. Gibbs responded that the award signified America’s restored place of leadership in the world. Here’s what he should have said: it’s an award! Ask them what it’s about! They gave it to us!

The award is big news on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has become something of a parliamentary chamber for debating out Obama’s chops. BARACKSTAR, one friend writes. An award by socialists, for socialists, writes another. Those in the middle hew against the committee, feeling this sends the wrong message to the President. It’s a bad precedent, they say. He hasn’t accomplished anything yet.

Sure he has: he won the Nobel Peace Prize!

Look, I haven’t agreed with every Best Picture winner at the Oscars. And I haven’t thought the best team has always won the World Series. But once it’s over, it’s over. The awards are handed out, and it’s time to move on.

I’m not sure what Obama’s detractors are expecting. Would they like him to refuse the award? To say something like: “I’m humbled and honored that the Nobel Prize committee has chosen me for this prestigious award. I, however, regretfully must decline accepting this honor, because I feel have not met the standards upon which I was apparently judged. I can do so much more for the world by rejecting an award promoting peace and togetherness. In the eloquent words of LOLCats, Pease Awards: UR Doin It Rong.”

It seems like just two weeks ago that member of the media were piling on Obama for pushing Chicago’s Olympic games bid. He’s too arrogant, they said. His campaign will never work, they said. It’s unbecoming of a President. He should focus on his job. Then Chicago lost the games, and the right celebrated. He got served! The world showed him what was up!

Now, having done nothing in the way of campaigning for another international award, and having gained it, Obama is being chastised for not deserving it. The hypocrisy would be oozing if it was just coming from the right, but it’s not. It’s coming from everywhere. Everyone’s got an opinion. His detractors say he’s simply undeserving. His supporters ask if he could do better.

That’s like asking if the Yankees could win five games in the World Series instead of four. It doesn’t freaking matter The Nobel Prizes go to the best candidates they can find. Barack Obama was the best candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, by the criteria for which it is judged. You know this, because he won. By being himself.

That’s the last thing he should have to apologize for.


I wrote three columns about the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday that I declined to post because I figured angry posting is bad. Calmer today. Here’s the first one.

So Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize and, to put it simple, people be’ buggin.

A random sampling of my Facebook friends’ status updates tell me as much, at least.

“BARACKSTAR!” one writes.

“Way to lower the bar, Nobel Committee. What’s the opposite of congratulatons?” blares another.

“[T]he Nobel Peace Prize: Awarded by socialists for socialists,” a final one laments. “Sadly it’s not what it once was.”

Wait, so the Nobel Peace Prize is The Simpsons? Or Brett Fav—nevermind.

The truth is, I’m fairly surprised at the announcement, but as usual, the reactions to it probably say more about the respondents than it does about the award. Why would the prize be any different now than it was in the past? What sort of objective standard was there before? Can anyone answer that? Any one my 100+ Facebook friends, that is?

I doubt it. I’m guessing that people’s reactions are in direct proportion to their feelings about Obama. My right-wing friend, who reliably attaches the adjective “socialist” to any Obama policy, is still a die-hard George W. Bush supporter, and one suspects he’s a big fan of the right-wing talk radio and TV circuit that reveled in Obama’s Olympic “failure.” Sadly, he was on his honeymoon at the time, so the world didn’t get to hear his tweets and clucks at the news, so we’ll use one from a Weekly Standard writer:

As a citizen of the world who believes that No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation, I’m glad that the Obama White House’s jingoist rhetoric and attempt to pay back Chicago cronies at the expense of undermining our relationships with our allies failed.

I wonder what the writer, John McCormack, will come up with today, now that the other nations of the world have effectively decided Obama has done anything but attempt to dominate them. Once happy with the world pushback, now McCormack will have to go on the offensive against the world’s love affair with the, yes, BARACKSTAR! There ought be a tornado watch in McCormack’s vicinity as he attempts to untangle himself from his own logic.

At the same time, it does seem to me to be a bit early for President Obama to have won the award—until you realize that he’s been America’s de facto world representative since before he gave a speech to two million Germans before the Brandenburg Gate. Other countries still needed the signatures of Cheney/Bush et. al, but they bought up the Obama “hope” message in bulk. Turns out, they really believed that message, which a majority of Americans did as well. And now some Americans are calling them fools.

One need to look no further than the Olympic decision to know that Barack Obama can’t push other countries around at will. America can lead the world, but the world won’t blindly follow us around. Having failed to snag the games for Chicago, Obama will have hopefully learned his lesson.

A final friend lamented that the Europeans “injected their politics” into the decision. He said it was “gross.” I say it’s probably always been that way, and even if it hasn’t, why is it bad that Europeans like our President? I, among others, chastised George W. Bush for alienating European countries—and now we’re going to complain when they show appreciation for our choices? How does that make any sense?

The Nobel Prize is what it is, and nothing more—a committee of people handing out awards. If you think it’s more important than that, be proud. If you don’t think it’s more important than that, then what’s the big deal?

No More Vineyard/Nantucket Game?

Sorting out my feelings on the news that this year’s Vineyard/Nantucket game has been canceled, and the Obama Nobel Peace Prize announcement. I also think the ALDS is insidious, not for any fundamental reason but because the short series forces you to watch all of it. I’m happy to miss an inning or game or two of a seven-game series, but if you blink you might miss a best-of-fiver. For all Bud Selig says about there being no compelling reason to change the playoff system, I think that’s the most obvious one. But what do I know?

That’s it for now. Saw The Informant! last night, was unimpressed.

Howard Dean Miscalculates Again: The Nightmare Scenario

I liked it when Howard Dean was named chairman of the Democratic National Committee. With the party in shambles, I thought Dean’s enthusiasm would help bring the party together, and it did. This year, the Democrats fielded some of the best Presidential candidates in recent memory, and it was under Dean’s watch.

But Howard Dean will do what Howard Dean does, and we’re getting quite close to a disaster of his making. If, as he mandates, the Democrats must have a nominee before they reach the Denver convention, it will almost certainly involve delegates from Michigan and Florida, the two states the DNC stripped of their delegations when they moved their primaries up to January. With Hillary – who “won” the two states — and Obama running neck-and-neck, these phantom delegates could very well decide the next President of the United States. Figuring out what to do here, especially because there’s a Clinton involved, could make Florida 2000 look like a tea party. At least Bush vs. Gore was an ideological fight. This would be Democratic cannibalism. It cannot happen. And here’s why it might.

On Meet the Press this morning, they laid out these possible scenarios:

a) Not seating the delegations;
b) Re-voting/caucusing on the DNC’s dime;
c) Splitting the votes proportionally along the national popular vote lines;
d) Seating the delegates for Clinton.

Now, “d” would seem to be the most implausible, given that it would go against what would seem to have been the rules, and “a” seems increasingly unlikely given the closeness of the race. That leaves “b” and “c”, but those choices are flawed-slashed-doomed as well. Given Obama’s strength in every Democratic caucus, including today’s Maine caucus, the Clinton camp will fight “b” tooth and nail. And given the increasingly likely possibility that superdelegates, who seem to tip in Clinton’s favor, could make up Hillary’s margin of victory, “c” might be doomed. If Obama wins the popular vote ever so slightly, and hence has a small lead in pledged delegates, option “c” would hand the race to Hillary while handing Florida to Obama. That would look pretty bad. All of which brings us back to “d”, a fundamentally unfair solution that would seem to solve two smaller Democratic problems: Hillary would win Florida, win the delegates that otherwise put her over the top so that the superdelegates would then be confirming the results of the national popular vote. Of course, this would create the unbelievable, cataclysmic problem of having an illegitimate nominee, which would probably doom Hillary in the general election. But here’s my fear: Howard Dean, not knowing how to manage this, will be bendable by the Clinton machine. And actually, this looks increasingly like the only way Hillary’s going to win this thing. And if the Clintons know how they can win, they’re going to try.

Independents in New York: WTF?

Subtitle: “A Non-Partisan Political Rant”

I grew up in Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, voters registered as Independents can vote in the Presidential primary of their choosing, and this always seemed to be an eminently reasonable way of doing things. The goal of the political process is to include as many people as possible, and this allowed voters who didn’t identify with either party to vote for anyone they felt like in the primaries. Unsurprisingly, I knew many Independents, and may have been registered as one myself at one point, I’m not sure.

(I do know that I launched my one and only ill-fated contrarian campaign for Mitt Romney against Ted Kennedy in 1994, but that was more of trying to show that I was an independent thinker in what I considered brainwashed Massachusetts. Young and foolish. Let’s move on.)

In New York, this is not the case. Independents cannot vote in the Presidential primaries. I was talking about this with a friend last night, who said that the logic behind it was likely an attempt by the parties to prevent any “gaming of the system” by, say, preventing independent Democrats from showing up and voting for a bad Republican candidate. The Web site Daily Kos recently advocated this strategy against John McCain in Michigan, encouraging Democrats to vote for Mitt Romney, and I’m rather disgusted by the whole affair. (You can’t make a name off complaining about the dirt in politics and then start throwing it yourself, the same way you can’t complain about the arguments made by a certain group of football fans, then start making them yourself). I think these fears are overblown: it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, the faux electorate is opening up a Pandora’s Box by messing with the will of the people. Everyone stands to lose and almost no one stands to gain.

Still, that’s the law here in New York. Yet I know many people who are registered as Independents, likely because they don’t want to be classified as “belonging” to any political party which they don’t believe in wholeheartedly. For most of the elections here, that’s basically saying that they want to be kept independent of the process, instead of the Massachusetts ethos, where you independently choose where and when to enter it. My boss, who is more or less a pacifist who’s registered as an Independent, came in asking, “Did Hillary win New York?” I told him, “Of course,” and he answered, “That’s bullsh*t.” While I am an Obama supporter, my response was, “You don’t participate, so you have no right to complain.” And he doesn’t.

Let’s look at what party registration really is: it’s filling out a little box on a piece of paper. Even if you want to be registered as in Independent on principle for the long haul, it would take less than one minute to change your registration to vote in the Presidential primary. This campaign’s been going on for more than one year, so there was ample warning for this change. City residents can print the form here, and non-city residents can do it here. Then you send it in the mail and a little birdy sends you a confirmation a few weeks later that everything is changed. Ta-Da! You can switch from Democrat to Republican to Independent and back to your heart’s content (since originally posting, I have found out that a lot of this is not true). You can alternate parties by month, or based on the Knicks’ record. You can do whatever you want. You’re beholden to nobody. You’re independent to choose whomever you’d like to vote for (which always includes the option “None of the Above.”) An independent voter who actually gets to vote — what a concept!