Saturday, October 10, 2009

Steele's Ignoble Bluster

Quads pounding and endorphins kicking in, I thought of GOP buffoon-in-chief (a.k.a. chairman of the Republican National Committee) Michael Steele as I cycled today. His less widely quoted comments on President Barack Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize deserve consideration.

They also deserve to be made into a big sampler and hung on the wall. Let us reflect on them as our President tries to undo many years of Republican and conservative Dem-led failures of diplomacy, economics and foreign policy.

Here and cross-posted at BMG, I was one of the many who foreshadowed Obama's view that now he has to make some serious progress in his peace efforts — a call to action for him, us and other nations, as he put it. Yet, I was very surprised later in the day to hear the ever derisive drama queen Steele go beyond claiming that the award was totally undeserved.

Using repetition as his rhetorical punchline, he asked iteratively whether receiving the award would help Obama — in passing health-care reform or getting more votes for this or that cause. With each question, he concluded, "I think not," with great enthusiasm and no small amount of projected schadenfreude. Like the worst of the right wing, he would have Obama and us as a nation fail, so long as the GOP benefited in the end.

Somewhere around mile 25 on my ride, I had worked through the stupidity and meanness of Steele. Those are, after all, his defining traits and by extension the badges his party wears now.

His rhetoric had clear implications...of failure. Steele would have it that the Nobel would not advance Obama's progressive promises or his efforts to undo the dreadful social, economic and military entanglements. But is that so and likely?

Under the archaic, aristocratic Senate rules, 60% of the body has to support any serious bill. Yet, Obama's progressive goals are for such rational and overdue changes that the Dems are only a few votes away on any given issue. What if a few events, including the awarding of the Peace Prize, sway a vote here and another there? What if Steele's cocksure rhetoric — I think not! — proves not so obvious?

What if Obama's too-slow, too-cautious, too-compromising aspirations for the nation and world come to fruition? What if the blue-dog Dems and even some Republicans are influenced by the needs of the world, nation and their constituents, coupled with the new choices the Administration offers, and catalyzed by even such small sparks as recognition of his drive toward peace in our time? What if the Peace Prize does in fact give just a little more leverage?

As Steele was making his bitter and nasty comments, the head of the prize committee had his own statement. At a news conference, Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said. "We hope this can contribute a little bit to enhance what he is trying to do."

That is certainly within the possible. We live in a fearful world, one tired of wars as well as financial trauma. I think I'll stick with the guy with the good goals and some plans to achieve them instead of the prophets of the impossible.

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