09 October 2009

Why Obama Nobel Prize Is the Outrage of the Year

On one level, the fact that President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is of no importance whatsoever. Many undeserving human beings, including murderers, terrorists, and dilettante climate alarmists, have been awarded what Andy McCarthy of National Review aptly describes as the Yasser Arafat Prize. Ever since the time when the likes of Mr Arafat were eligible for anything but arrest and trial by supposedly civilized countries, the Nobel Peace Prize has ceased to have any meaning as a measure of civilization.

My first reaction--and that of my wife--on hearing of the Obama Nobel Prize was, "Why?" And we did not scream this in an angry wail of terror, but in genuine bafflement. We were, to use a term my teacher warned me never to use, flabbergasted. What earthly reasons could there be to award Mr Obama this prize? He has accomplished nothing so far in his young presidency. He has been long on promises and grand schemes but up till now he has little show for it.

Our second reaction, after it sunk in with us and Anderson Cooper of CNN that, no, this was not some weird delayed April Fools', was, "Oh, I get it. They're giving it to him simply because he is not George W. Bush." I still believe it is the most important reason the squishy Norwegian progressives in charge of this prize picked on Mr Obama as the ideal candidate for 2009. Never mind any of his actual policies, about which Europeans in general know nothing and care nothing anyway. His most important achievement has been simply being in office instead of the hated Bush. The prize is meant to convey the enlightened message that America is not to repeat outrages like electing backward mental looneys like that Texan cowboy George. To progressives in Europe (and the US, for that matter), the mere act of Bush's replacement by Obama is a tangible and actual benefit to the world and of such great importance as to warrant awarding the Nobel Peace Prize. George W. Bush in the White House was such a threat to the planet that peace has been promoted by his departure.

The truly discouraging part of this state of affairs is the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize does still have a reputation, even though it should not. And Barack Obama clearly cannot live up to that imaginary reputation. He has been an absent president in his own country's politics, prefering to speechify rather than to do any actual constructive work, and a non-entity in both policy realms for which the Norwegian Nobel committee is now awarding him this honor (nuclear non-proliferation and Mideast peace). This fig leaf couldn't conceal an amoebe's wedding tackle. The president actually had the temerity to accept this prize with the words:
Let me be clear: I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments.
You're darn tootin'!

06 October 2009

The Biggest Straw Man in the Health Care Reform Debate

If you were to listen to Democrats, the only reason we do not have a sensible reform package on the table to deal with the problems in America's health care is Republican nay sayers. President Obama campaigned explicitly on a promise of bipartisanship, already tied to an implied message of Republican obstructionism. America's deliverance from eight years of Republican tyranny at the hands of the Obamassiah has so far, however, produced nothing of substance and it is clear that Democratic party leaders are getting frustrated. Who better to blame than the Republican minority for continuing a nefarious campaign to stop the One from implementing his promises of bipartisan reform of Washington?

And so the White House rolls out Gov. Arnie 'the RINO' Schwarzenegger and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in support of health care reform. Here are the real Republicans, is the underlying message of this media stunt. If only the Republican Party could be like them, we would not have had this frustrating summer without the passage of a sound public option.

That Arnie the RINO should have come out in favor of health care reform is not surprising, for several reasons. The most important is the lack of real philosophical differences. But even granted that factor, notice the words Gov. Schwarzenegger used:
Our principal goals, slowing the growth in costs, enhancing the quality of care delivered, improving the lives of individuals, and helping to ensure a strong economic recovery, are the same goals that the president is trying to achieve. I appreciate his partnership with the states and encourage our colleagues on both sides of the political aisle at the national level to move forward and accomplish these vital goals for the American people.

These words help show up the big straw man in the whole debate, at least as Democrats are trying to frame it: that Republicans are against health care reform. News flash to Democrats: Republicans are against the Democratic plans for health care reform because they involve setting up a huge new federal bureaucracy, with new federal oversight, enormous new tax burdens, ill-construed insurance policies and regulation, etc. In general, their plans try to treat symptoms, some of which many Republicans do not even believe are caused by the same disease, and the cures are, in their view, worse than the disease.