Friday, October 09, 2009

A bubble gum prize for a bubble gum presidency and a bubble gum generation

If you were a true “rocker” you hated “bubble gum music”. Like the little bubbles you could make with hot air, there was no substance to it; only a sugary, chewy feeling and a sticky mess on your face. Bubble gum music was not for true believers only for the geeks that usually ended in school government.

We thought that bubble gum mentality wouldn't survive. Now we have seen it just grown up and gone to Congress, the White House and the Nobel Prize.

The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama has caused a collective, world jaw drop. Even at NPR and the BBC jaws dropped in incredulity. But the person whose jaw must be taken to an emergency room to have it surgically reinstalled today is President Jimmy Carter. After being passed over for actually bringing peace between two warring nations, he had to become “Bob the Builder” before he was finally recognized by the Nobel Committee in 2002.

According to the Nobel Prize organization the Peace Prize is to be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

But the prize has been increasingly awarded for less than actually bringing or promoting real peace. Some of the recent awardees have included forest savers (a lady in Africa), documentary makers (Gore), a free market banking promoter (India) and now a president for making speeches full of platitudes and bubble gum hopes.

The prize has become also a political tool of the world liberal elite to stick their finger in the eye of US domestic politics. At least five of the last nine awards could be said were given to slap half of the American voters in the face. Koffi Annan, Carter, Mohamed ElBaradei, Gore, Obama.

So Obama speaks a “non-unilateral”, “non-preemptive use of force” talk and wants the UN to be the main avenue to solve the world’s problems. These were also given as reasons during the press conference. According to the spokesperson for the Nobel Committee basically the award was given to President Obama for talking nice, or in other words, for not being Bush.

Barack Obama has been awarded the prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". Can anyone cite one major treaty this president has signed? The point is, you need to talk nice to this “bubble gum”, “I love you, you love me, Barney generation.” Actual accomplishments on war and peace are not necessary.

But the bubble gum generation understands war and peace completely different. Now as we so many words which now mean something else, such as "gay", "extreme" and so on, we must redefine the word "extraordinary". Giving the prize to the president “for extraordinary effort” is like giving good grades to a student just for trying. Will the Noble Peace Price become yet another icon of our continued “dumbing down” of values and sense of excellence?

This Nobel Peace Prize is actually unfair to the president. It really does him no favors. It now ties his hands and builds unrealistic expectations. It is yet another effort to meddle in U.S. politics. Ironically, it also helps reinforce the notion of President Obama as a media phenomenon, more fluff than substance. The Nobel Peace Prize in the hands of President Obama at this time looks more like an MTV Video Award.

Perhaps there is a way out for President Obama. In 1973 the Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Doc Tho declined the award saying he was not in a position to accept the Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.

Perhaps President Obama could avoid this albatross around his neck by citing the “critical situation” of health care in his nation, or the fact that war is raging in Afghanistan, or even the streets of Chicago, or the fact he has actually done nothing to deserve it yet.

As with health care reform, and ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, this prize based not on real accomplishments but on rhetoric will create an alternative reality that won't match “real reality”.

As with the pressure of having to rush health care reform based on a created crisis for political campaigning, now there will be added pressure to rush for an end to conflicts that require complex solutions more than just talking nice.

But for this generation all that will matter is that at least he gets an “A” for effort. Let us Hope our collective bubble doesn’t blow up and leaves a sticky mess on our face.