FROM DOUTHAT’S GLASS HOUSE…. The NYT‘s Ross Douthat devotes his column today to denouncing President Obama’s Nobel prize as a “travesty,” and criticizing the president for accepting the honor.
Here was an opportunity to cut himself free, in a stroke, from the baggage that’s weighed his presidency down — the implausible expectations, the utopian dreams, the messianic hoo-ha.
Here was a place to draw a clean line between himself and all the overzealous Obamaphiles, at home and abroad, who poured their post-Christian, post-Marxist yearnings into the vessel of his 2008 campaign.
Here was a chance to establish himself, definitively, as an American president — too self-confident to accept an unearned accolade, and too instinctively democratic to go along with European humbug.
He didn’t take it. Instead, he took the Nobel Peace Prize. Big mistake.
The column is premised on some dubious assumptions. Douthat insists, for example, that the president could have simply turned the Nobel committee down, but I think Steve M. is right about what we would have heard had the president chosen this path: “Ooooh! He refused it! Who does he think he is? Le Duc Tho? Sartre? Whatever happened to No-Drama Obama?”
The column goes on to argue about oppressed international heroes who deserve more attention. Of course, it’s worth noting that Douthat hasn’t actually written about any of these people before.
Perhaps the most striking angle, though, is the irony of the column itself. After all, when it comes to receiving high-profile, sought-after honors after a brief public career, based largely on hopes of future successes and political considerations, Ross Douthat knows of what he speaks.