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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)

  • DennisQ

    [T]he country’s incompetent and bellicose downward spiral put the kibosh on McCain’s business-as-usual campaign. He didn’t promise to do anything different from what Bush and Cheney were already doing. There’s a tipping point when the number of people with no investment at all in political stability exceeds the number of people who like things just as they are.
    Bush didn’t deliver the goods. His campaign in 2000 promised to restore honor to our military, but he got us bogged down in another Vietnam. He pledged economic renewal with tax cuts, but all he did was widen the gap between rich and poor. Didn’t he also hint at restoring some kind of civility? Mark that one as Not Done as well.
    Obama has struggled for traction since taking office. Most of us believe his heart is in the right place, but he’s doing too much to bring Republicans into the fold. They’re not responding; and it doesn’t seem like they’re going to.
    That said, I knew we were in for an ordeal the day Bush took office. Some of his obnoxious qualities were worse than others – his sense of entitlement, his lack of curiosity, his mean-spiritedness; and his overall swagger were all unattractive. However, I didn’t suspect that he’d be completely incompetent as well.
    It’s said that Obama won the Nobel Prize for not being George Bush. Even if that’s true, it’s enough. Halleluja! Those awful days are behind us, at last, at last!

  • Kathryn in MA

    Indeed, “the number of people with no investment at all in (business as usual)” were the co-recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Martin

    I’m struck that the waitstaff at the big do for the Hispanic Caucus appears to be mostly Hispanic. I don’t know why this bothers me, or how it could be otherwise in our society.

  • peakoil

    Yes, they are Hispanic…AND, the look of pride and admiration in their eyes would never have been there for Bush. Also, that’s my Representative, Ben Lujan Jr. in the left of the photo, and a Black and Hispanic in the lower part of the photo – both in positions of some power obviously. Something big has changed here, where it goes is up to all of us.

  • Stella

    My immediate response to the headline and this photo – Hell yes! He put Sonia Sotomayor on the Supreme Court to serve our country for decades into the future.
    That’s enough for me right now, but I’ll keep watching.

  • Russ

    Quote: “I’m struck that the waitstaff at the big do for the Hispanic Caucus appears to be mostly Hispanic. I don’t know why this bothers me, or how it could be otherwise in our society.”
    Hey, at least the Latino waiter ladies at the Hispanic Caucus have JOBS. Which a lot of the rest of people these days don’t have.

  • doranb

    Like the President, I too was surprised that he won the prize. That said, the claim that he’s done nothing is settled by the award itself. I think Americans grossly underestimate the impact that the election of Obama has had on the rest of the world. I don’t think the award was given on our behalf, but for the rest of the planet’s perception of how Obama has changed things.
    If the Presidency is little more than a Bully Pulpit, then I think this award is proof of how effective Obama has been in using that platform. Corny as it sounds, do not underestimate the power of hope.

  • Angellight

    Candidate and then President Barack Obama has ignited the Will to Good and Peace by extending an Olive Branch to our adversaries, thereby igniting peaceful dialogue, cooperation and inclusiveness. His aura radiates peace. He extended an olive branch to Hillary Clinton after the bitter battle and even one to the GOP, although they continually spit in his face.

  • TJ

    Peace is a process and it never ends. There has to be a process in place on a continuing basis. This President has established a process, or, put back in place a process that was destroyed and missing in the previous 8 years. That is worthy of recognition.
    Peace is never “achieved”. In the military sense, it is a cease to making war and, in the old days, there was a victor and a loser. Peace is not just about warfare and today there are no victors and no losers, just ongoing warfare. The process of peace never ends.

  • kenny

    Obama aint worth a shit

  • Rob

    Why must everyone think that Obama is such a step up from what we had? Just because he used campaign techniques from former great and not so great presidents doesn’t make him a good president. After a year I still have not seen a change for the better.
    On the comment that Bush put us in another Vietnam – this can be taken many different ways. Take a look at “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. The reason we lost is because it didn’t have public support. Iraq and Afghanistan have more support than Vietnam did. Vietnam soldiers came home and they were criticized by civilians for fighting. The fact is that war sucks. That is why people don’t like it. Be thankful that the war is not fought in your backyard, because I can’t imagine a worse thing for your children to learn.
    Everyone says that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. Honestly, I don’t know anyone who knows the exact reason we went in. Nobody but top military and government leaders do. The one thing that I have seen though…..we took out a dictator who was turned over to INTERNATIONAL court. He was executed. I feel better thinking that someone who is going to be sentenced to death by an international court is not in power anymore.
    The media is the key to all of the Obama hype. Always remember, the media just wants people to listen. They DON’T CARE about what they are saying.

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