Dear Republicans: Reagan would have applauded Obama’s Nobel

President Obama delivers remarks at the White House regarding his receipt of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

President Obama delivers remarks at the White House regarding his receipt of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Nice to know that the Republicans’ most vocal pundits have retreated to the position they know best: Cynicism. Minutes after the Nobel Committee announced that President Obama had won its annual Peace Prize Award, a phalanx of conservative suits – lead by John Bolton, Ed Rollins, and Bill Kristolridiculed the Oslo news. Kristol said that John McCain was a better Nobel candidate, while Bolton resurrected the name of the man who’s considered the Last Real Republican: Ronald Reagan.

“President Reagan called for a world without nuclear weapons,” Bolton told the Washington Post. “Where was his Nobel peace prize?”

Posterised Vector of Ronald Reagan by Iain Forbes

Image by i_forbes via Flickr

If Reagan were alive and well, he would have ridiculed Bolton – and applauded Obama’s latest achievement. Reagan had much in common with Obama. Both were blessed with a gift of gab, both were blessed with a telegenic ability to connect with audiences, and both were blessed with a supreme sense of their political mission. Opposites ideologically, Obama and Reagan are also united by their circuitous route to the White House – Reagan’s via an Illinois childhood, a Hollywood career and California politics; Obama’s via Indonesia, an Ivy League education, and Illinois politics.

Bolton is correct on the facts: Reagan called for a reduction in nuclear weapons, and was so vocal in his belief that the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation labels him “a nuclear abolitionist.” Obama can be tagged with the same “abolitionist” label for his efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles around the world. Unlike Reagan, Obama has the political cachet to actually implement this reduction. The Nobel award ratchets up that cachet, for which we should be grateful.

Reagan ascended to the presidency on a platform of optimism. The comments by Bolton, Kristol (“if the . . . Norwegians wanted to give the Nobel Peace Prize to an American, it would have been better to give it to Sen. John McCain for having the guts to push through the surge in Iraq) and Rollins (“At the end of the day, what has he accomplished?”) are sour grapes. Rollins worked for Ronald Reagan. He should know better. But less than a year into the presidency of Barack Obama, Republicans are desperate to stave off their sinking fortunes. Their cynicism is a sign of the times, as much as the stunning news that Obama has won the Nobel.

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12 Responses to Dear Republicans: Reagan would have applauded Obama’s Nobel

  1. Mr. Curiel,

    You are certainly correct that the conservative response to the decision to award Mr. Obama the Nobel Prize is no one cynicism (and nihilism). However I cannot see how you could know what Mr. Reagan would have thought of this. Mr. Reagan was a determined politician who had deeply held conservative views. There is no reason to believe that he would have been any more generous than the current crop of conservatives. That he was perhaps a better communicator the today’s conservatives does not mean he would have had a different message to communicate.

    In any event, one of the reasons he was so successful that the electorate was quite different 30 years ago. There was a large group of white, blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” who worked in high paying industrial jobs in the mid-west and California. Those jobs, and those Democrats, are long gone. Further, the disastrous years of the Bush administration has created a credibility gap that conservatives have yet to overcome. Given these realities, what other tactic other than cynicism do they have? Mr. Reagan would have been in the same boat with just as little room to maneuver as the rest of the conservatives. What stance other than cynicism would work to a conservatives advantage right now?

    • Thanks for your comment. I believe Reagan — based on his belief in nuclear de-escalation — would have been generous toward Obama. As you point out, many Democrats went for Reagan, just as many Republicans (Colin Powell, Christopher Buckley, et al.) went for Obama in a very public way. Cynicism won’t win the Republicans any converts (or even sympathizers). Obama ran on a platform of change (and optimism) that mirrored Reagan’s White House platform. Thankfully, cynicism is dead as a political avenue. John McCain tried it as a tactic, and it failed miserably, including trying to label Obama a “celebrity.” That same charge could have been thrown at Reagan, too.

  2. CWimms says:

    Nice try, Jonathan. The Gipper would have called out this ridiculous exercise for the joke it is and how it has tarnished the accolades of those who really deserved it: Mother Theresa, Begin and Sadat, Gen. George Marshal, Wilson, Roosevelt, etc. (Course, he would have called out the awards to Arafat, Gore and Carter, too.)

    • Thanks for the comment. I disagree, of course. Reagan, I believe, would have put a positive spin on it, seeing it as another way for Obama to kick-start diplomatic initiatives — with Moscow, Iran, and other countries whose nuclear ambitions have to be considered in the years ahead.

  3. andylevinson says:

    RE: reagan and obama were both blessed with the gift of gab?

    You are kidding? Obama sinks in quicksand without his teleprompter.

    Was reagan afraid to reveal his birth certificate as obama is?

    • thomasmedlicott says:

      Give me a break. Ronnie was scripted straight from the California Republican machine. His oratorical skills were “B” movie quality, as he was an actor. Tom Medlicott

    • Thanks for your comment. I don’t believe Obama is lost without a teleprompter. He certainly didn’t need one during his presidential debates with John McCain — debates that showed the major difference in depth and style between the two major parties’ candidates. Though Reagan didn’t have a birth-certificate issue, he did have other issues (especially Iran-Contra) that tarnished his presidency.

  4. thomasmedlicott says:

    I have a lot more faith in President Obama’s investments in international diplomacy and his ongoing campaign of championing America than the conservatives cynicism at every move he makes. Why would you not feel a sense of pride if you’re American and your president wins the Nobel Peace Prize? It isn’t like he lobbied for the prize. Unfortunately, I remember the “haters” among the American conservative movement becoming very vocal during Reagan’s terms in office. If President Obama is laying the groundwork for peace and prosperity he has adversaries placing rocks in the roadbed behind him. Tom Medlicott

    • Thanks for the comment. Reagan’s folksiness and background as an actor gave him an ability to connect with audiences in ways that many of his opponents never got. I didn’t agree with Reagan’s policies, but even Reagan’s detractors had to acknowledge his political acumen. As for Republic cynics — it seems they’re trying, at every opportunity, to leave a trail of suspicion with Obama. These “rocks” as you put it will only hurt their cause in the long-run.

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  6. claybarham says:

    The Nobel Prize Committee set a new standard for groups like the Motion Picture Academy, in that an Oscar no longer requires the winner to give a great performance, but intend to give one. The Nobel Prize was once given to people who do something great; while today just saying one wants to do something great is enough to win. The Nobel Prize Committee is trying to shape future reality by recognizing intent to do something they admire, such as equalizing America with the third world. The Oscars could be awarded to actors who never perform, but tell others they would like to. Obama, then, should also be given an Oscar too. Check out THE CHANGING FACE OF DEMOCRATS on Amazon as well as http://www.claysamerica.com.

  7. Kim Lancaster says:

    Ha! I think it is enormously funny and ironic that these Champions of Peace (Rollins, Bolton, Kristol, ad absurdium) presume to have any self-rightous indignation on any selection of the Nobel. The dumbing down of the party of Lincoln is breathtaking..

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