Doctors hate it when preparatory sedation fails to calm the patient. And the roll-call of brain-numbing recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize from years past failed utterly to keep the American right from levitating in rage when the Obama announcement rocketed around the world after all that prayer, fasting and meditation in Oslo. And it wasn't just the right floating around up there in shared confusion.
So, more anesthesia, please! Re-inject the patient with reminders of Yasser Arafat. Al Gore. Jimmy Carter. Feel better? Maybe it's time to back up and review what the Nobel Peace Prize is. It is not the solemn and sober selection of who the Norwegian committee considers has done the most for world peace lately. Instead it's become the demonstration by five Norwegians selected by the Norwegian Parliament that a small country can throw a political punch heard around the world just like the mightiest of the superpowers – for at least one punch per year.
Forget Obama and look at Norway for a moment. Norway – at least its political and media leadership – is strangely susceptible to political correctness. The Nobel Committee's selection of Al Gore was simply saying, "Our annual punch-in-the-nose this year goes to all who don't take global warming seriously." Jimmy Carter's award threw the punch on behalf of the "poor Palestinians" whose "victimhood" has been swallowed whole by the political and media leadership of Norway. Yasser Arafat shared the prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israeli Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, a triad that fit the Norwegian "peace" fantasy like custom ski boots. For little Norway to wield the power to bring those three to the same podium was an ego-feast every bit equal to sauteed codfish head and aquavit.
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So, what was on those five Norwegians' minds this time? Much is made of the notion that Obama got the award just for the awesome achievement of not being George W. Bush. Others have suggested "socialist" Norway wants America to become more like Norway and the rest of Europe so good businesses and smart people will quit flocking to America; and therefore the winner is Obama. Still others tell us Obama's words are so precisely what Norwegians like to hear that enactment following the utterance of those words is simply unnecessary.
The Nobel Prize is a blunt instrument. I believe the committee's intention here, aided by exquisite timing, was to maneuver Obama into refusing more American troops to Afghanistan. Can you get the president into a more awkward position than, in effect, making him say, "Thanks, for the Nobel Peace Prize, Norway, and I'd like to stick around a little longer, but I've got to go deploy 40,000 new troops into Afghanistan"?
Norway and America have many important things in common; among them the divide between the government and media on one side and the people on the other. You'll find about the same percentage of Americans and Norwegians insisting with about the same intensity that they don't represent us. By the way, those branding Norway as "socialist" seem to want us to believe Norway is one historical hiccup away from communism.
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Bad rap. Norway has free elections with a multi-party makeup, the whole galaxy of personal freedoms Americans crave, free enterprise, an independent judiciary, no secret police bashing down doors at night and total freedom to leave if you don't like it. For years Americans recoiling at the sight of oil-billionaires in the Middle East having stretch limousines made of silver while their ignorant, impoverished masses beg for crumbs have wished out loud, "There ought to be a way to have the oil wealth benefit the entire nation." Hello! Ever since Norway struck it rich with North Sea oil in the 1970s, a committee allocates the oil wealth exactly according to that dream. The reason Norway gets smacked with the socialist label is because taxes are so high, regulation is tough and welfare is unbelievably broad and deep. Health care and higher education are "free." As we write, we're watching European welfare states keel while center-right parties are gaining at the polls.
A prominent Norwegian businessman in New York, Abel Abrahamsen, always kept a cartoon on the wall of his office in which a Norwegian Viking (and they were, indeed, far-ranging violent conquering marauders) is squatting in the Arctic mud wearing his horned helmet and he's facing a gypsy fortune teller. The caption has the gypsy telling the Viking, "I see your people settling down and becoming famous for blondes, open-faced sandwiches and modern furniture."
I say that gypsy gets the prize.