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October 11, 2009

But He Really Hasn’t Done Anything Yet — Right?

Waiters in the audience listen to President Barack Obama's speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 32nd Annual Awards Gala dinner in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 16, 2009.

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According to the Nobel Committee press release:

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

With all the cynicism generated or catalyzed by the peace prize, even among those partial to Obama, I was drawn to this recent photo from the White House Flickr Stream. The caption reads:

Waiters in the audience listen to President Barack Obama’s speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 32nd Annual Awards Gala dinner in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 16, 2009.

What fascinates me about the photo is how much, in the aftermath of the Nobel, it breaks two different ways.

In other words, does the image confirm that Obama (like a giant projection) is primarily noteworthy for being engaging? Or, does the criticism of Obama for lacking quick fixes actually obscure what has been a fabulously unique and profound (if radically underestimated) accomplishment, which was to arrest the country’s incompetent and bellicose downward spiral (as well as the poisoning of global coexistence) and relatively quickly implement a new and evolving atmosphere of engagement, deliberation, possibility and sanity?

(image: Pete Souza/White House)

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