An American President who won his job, in part, on an antiwar platform showed up in Oslo this week to support war while accepting a prize for peace.
So strong was Barack Obama’s endorsement of war as a necessary means to fight evil that conservatives praised his speech while liberals frothed at the mouth and barfed all over their Guccis.
Right-wing firebrand Newt Gingrich called it “a very historic speech.”
Even Sarah Palin liked it.
I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaida’s leaders to lay down their arms.
The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen was not impressed:
Obama’ s time may come, but he is not yet a great man. He is merely a famous man — a very famous man. He had no right to give this speech and the Nobel committee had no right to ask him. Someday, Obama may grow into the speech he gave. It was a good speech — but like a young wine, served before its time.
Alas, Obama’s speech adds to liberal angst in this nation. They thought they elected one of their own but he is turning out to be a pragmatic President who puts reality ahead of idealism.
As President, Obama realizes something too many on the left can never comprehend: that words alone cannot defeat evil, that war — however repugnant — is all too often the only viable solution.
In many ways, Obama is the most enigmatic President in modern American history. He continues to surprise while evolving into the job. While legitimate questions remain over whether or not he should have accepted a Nobel Peace Prize awarded for what he is expected to accomplish rather than what he has actually done, his speech served notice that this President is no peacenik and may be one willing to make the hard decisions to defend America when necessary.
He appears to realize that positions cannot be static and that a President must look beyound partisan considerations when representing the needs of a nation. Candidate Obama campaigned against the war in Iraq but said resolution was necessary in Afghanistan. That’s one campaign promise he kept. The surge that sends 30,000 more Americans to that war may or may not work but he made the call and then jetted off to Oslo to accept an award for peace.
While I have many doubts about Obama, I’m impressed by what he said in Norway. I’m impressed that he kept his promises on Afghanistan while the liberals in Congress tried to pressure him to back off.
“This speech has got to be the Obama doctrine,” says historian John Baick, a professor at Western New England College.
If so, then the Barack Obama we saw is Oslo may finally start to deliver on the promise of his young Presidency.