The most popular headline at the Real Clear Politics website the other day was: “Is Obama Becoming A Joke?” With brilliant comedic timing, the very next morning the Norwegians gave him the Nobel Peace Prize. Up next: His stunning victory in this year’s Miss World contest. December 12, Johannesburg. You read it here first.
For what, exactly, did he win the Nobel? As the president himself put it: “When you look at my record, it’s very clear what I have done so far. And that is nothing. Almost one year and nothing to show for it. You don’t believe me? You think I’m making it up? Take a look at this checklist.”
And up popped his record of accomplishment, reassuringly blank.
Oh, no, wait. That wasn’t the real President Obama. That was a comedian playing President Obama on Saturday Night Live. And, for impressionable types who find it hard to tell the difference, CNN — in a broadcast first that should surely have its own category at the Emmys — performed an in-depth “reality check” of the SNL sketch. That’s right: They fact-checked the jokes. Seriously. “How much truth is behind all the laughs? Stand by for our reality check,” promised Wolf Blitzer, introducing his in-depth report with all the plonking earnestness so cherished by those hapless Americans stuck at Gate 73 for four hours with nothing to watch but the CNN airport channel. Given the network’s ever-more-exhaustive absence of viewers among the non-flight-delayed demographic, perhaps Wolf could make it a regular series:
Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
That was no lady, that was my wife.
“In fact, our sources confirm, his wife is, biologically speaking, a lady. Joining us now is our medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, we all like a joke, but how much truth is behind the laughs?”
Fortunately, the Nobel Committee understands that President Obama’s accomplishments are no laughing matter. So they gave him the Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” I assumed this was a reference to his rip-roaring success in winning the Olympic Games for Rio — but as it turns out, the deadline for Nobel nominations was way back on February 1.
Obama took office on January 20. Gosh, it’s so long ago now. What “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy” did he make in those first twelve days? Bowing to the Saudi King? Giving the British prime minister the Wal-Mart discount box of Twenty Classic Movies You’ve Seen A Thousand Times? “Er, Barack, I’ve already seen these.” “That’s okay. They won’t work in your DVD player anyway.”
For these and other “extraordinary efforts” in “cooperation between peoples,” President Obama is now the fastest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history. Alas, the extraordinary efforts of those first twelve days are already ancient history. Reflecting the new harmony of U.S.-world relations since the administration hit the “reset” button, the Times of London declared the award “preposterous” and Svenska Freds (the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society) called it “shameful.” There’s something almost quaintly vieux chapeau about the Nobel decision, as if the hopeychangey bumper stickers were shipped surface mail to Oslo and only arrived last week. Everywhere else, they’re peeling off: The venerable lefties at Britain’s New Statesman currently have a cover story on “Barack W. Bush.”
Happily, there are still a few Americans willing to stand by Mister Saturday Night. “I am shocked at the mean-spirited comments,” wrote Judi Romaine to the Times in protest at all the naysaying. “I’m afraid I’ve registered into a very conversative [sic], fear-based world here but I’d like to suggest the incredible notion we all create our worlds in our conversations. What are you building by maligning rather than creating discourses for workability? Bravo to Obama and others working for people, however it appears to cynics.”
If that’s the language you have to speak when you’re “working for people,” I’d rather work for a cranky mongoose. Yet to persons who can use phrases like “creating discourses for workability” with a straight face, Obama remains an heroic figure. Like Judi Romaine, he works hard to “create our worlds in our conversations.” Why, only the other day, very conversationally, the administration floated the trial balloon that it could live with the Taliban returning to government in Afghanistan. A lot of Afghans won’t be living with it, but that’s their lookout.