[Re-posted from earlier today]
I've had some coffee now. Reading through all the reactions, compiled by Chris and Patrick, there are two obvious points: this is premature and this is thoroughly deserved.
Both are right. I don't think Americans fully absorbed the depths to which this country's reputation had sunk under the Cheney era. That's understandable. And so they also haven't fully absorbed the turn-around in the world's view of America that Obama and the American people have accomplished. Of course, this has yet to bear real fruit. But you can begin to see how it could; and I hope more see both the peaceful intentions and the steely resolve of this man to persevere.
This president has done a huge amount to bring race relations in this country to a different place, which is why the far right has become so vicious in attacking him and lying about him. They know he threatens their politics of division and rule. He has also directly addressed the Muslim world, telling some hard truths, and played a small role in evoking a similar movement of hope and change in Iran, and finally told the Israelis to stop cutting their nose off to spite their face.
I like Shimon Peres' statement, reprinted in a useful compendium of world reaction at the Lede:
“Very few leaders if at all were able to change the mood of the entire world in such a short while with such a profound impact. You provided the entire humanity with fresh hope, with intellectual determination, and a feeling that there is a lord in heaven and believers on earth.” Mr. Peres, who won the peace prize with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat in 1994 following the Oslo Accords, added: “Under your leadership, peace became a real and original agenda. And from Jerusalem, I am sure all the bells of engagement and understanding will ring again. You gave us a license to dream and act in a noble direction.”
Right now, we do not know where that direction will ultimately lead. We do know that we were facing a spiral of conflict that, unchecked, could have taken the world to the abyss. I see this prize as an endorsement of his extraordinary reorientation of world politics, and as an encouragement to see it through. In the midst of our domestic battles, and their ill-temper (from which I have not been immune lately), this is an attempt to tell us: look up for a moment, see how far we've come in pivoting away from global conflict, and give this man a break for his efforts and the massive burden he now bears.
And, in the darkness that still threatens, know hope.
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