Former Speech Writers on Obama’s Comments on Winning Nobel Peace Prize and the Republican Response

A pair of former speech writers have some comments on Barack Obama’s statement about receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and the Republican reaction. James Fallows was impressed by Obama’s statement, especially considering how little time he had after receiving the unexpected news. He analyzed the statement paragraph by paragraph, with this comment on the final paragraph:

This was the most important and shrewdest thing he said, because it is where he acknowledges an uncomfortable fact that everyone knows to be true. Of course the award can’t be in recognition of projects he has already achieved and completed, because there aren’t that many of them. In these third and fourth paragraphs, Obama acknowledges that point — but adds the news-analyst’s argument that often the Nobel committee awards these prizes as encouragements, signals, or what it hopes will be momentum-changers. If other people are going to say that, Obama does well to signal his understanding of the point himself. And from there he’s off to the rest of the (fairly brief) statement, enumerating the sorts of common challenges he has in mind.

Jerome Doolittle, who worked with Fallows as a speech writer for Jimmy Carter, posted a set of tips for the Republican talking points:

1. What do you expect from a bunch of socialists?

2. Not that I’m a racist, but I know affirmative action when I see it.

3. Carter, Gore, Obama? Do we see a pattern here?

4. A clumsy attempt by Europe to save a failing presidency.

5. The Norwegians are just using Obama to slap George W. Bush in the face.

6. Besides, who cares what a bunch of geeks in Oslo think? The International Olympic Committee speaks for the whole world.

7. No thinking person has taken the Nobel Peace Prize seriously since Reagan didn’t win one for ending the Cold War.

8. We elect a president to keep America safe, not to win prizes.

9. True leadership is not an international popularity contest.

10. Peace is no big deal anyway. No, wait a minute. Strike that last one.

He missed one potential Republican talking point: So what if we agree with the Taliban on this award. Stopping Obama’s agenda is a goal we both share.

Nuclear Engineer at Cern Lab Arrested For Ties to Al Qaeda

An al Qaeda attack might have been prevented in Europe. The Times of London reports:

Fears that al-Qaeda is planning an attack on the nuclear industry in Europe were renewed yesterday after French secret agents arrested a physicist working at an atomic research centre.

The 32-year-old man, who was detained with his brother, 25, is suspected of providing a list of terrorist targets to North African Islamic radicals. He worked for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, according to French police sources.

Agents were said to have intercepted messages in which the physicist, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, had suggested targets in France.

He is believed to have been in contact with members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an Algerian-based terror organisation that joined Osama bin Laden’s network in 2007.

“He had expressed a wish or a desire to commit terrorist actions but had not materially prepared them,” an intelligence source said.

After he was identified, during an investigation into a French network that had sent Islamic radicals to Afghanistan, the man was put under surveillance for about 18 months. Last month Judge Christophe Teissier, an investigating magistrate specialising in terrorism, opened a formal inquiry into his activities.

The brothers apparently came to the attention of the secret services when agents monitored the internet as part of the inquiry into the recruitment of extremists to fight in Afghanistan. Several exchanges were recorded between the brothers and suspected al-Qaeda contacts.

As has generally been the case, terrorism was successfully fought with conventional gathering of intelligence and police work. During the Bush years, those who stressed the importance of such efforts were often attacked by the Bush administration and the right wing.

The pair were arrested by the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) at their home in Vienne, eastern France. Police seized two computers, three hard discs and two USB keys.

The men were taken for questioning at the directorate’s headquarters in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris. “Perhaps we have avoided the worst possible scenario,” Brice Hortefeux, the French Interior Minister, said. “We are in a situation of permanent vigilance and we follow the declarations of the leaders of certain organisations day by day. Our vigilance is never lowered. The risk is permanent.”

CERN, the leading European laboratory for the study of sub-atomic physics, said that the suspect had never been in contact with any elements that could be used for terrorist purposes.

There is  no report of water boarding or other forms of torture being required in this case.

Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

In a surprise move, the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Barack Obama, making him only the third sitting American president to win the prize.  The award was given for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.” The committee particularly noted his efforts to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal.

While often the award is given for past achievements, this award was given as a recognition that ideas matter, and in order to further promote Obama’s views on international relations. The award is also seen as recognition of the significant change in direction for the United States with the replacement of George Bush and Dick Cheney with Barack Obama.

It is remarkable for Obama to have won the award so early in his presidency. Two previous sitting presidents, Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919, have won the award. In addition, Jimmy Carter won the award following his term in office in 2002 and former Vice President Al Gore won the award in 2007. (I would be curious as to the initial gut reaction to this award by Bill Clinton.)

Obama first heard about winning the award in a wake up call from press secretary Robert Gibbs, who had learned about this from members of the media. The news has been received by considerable world praise. It was also greeted by opposition by some with valid concerns, and with outrage by those who oppose American values including Hamas, the Taliban, and many American conservatives. This award not only represents a repudiation of conservative views, but is contrary to their goals. While the Nobel Prize committee awarded this prize partially in the hopes that it will help promote Obama’s ideas and goals, failure on Obama’s part has become a top goal of the conservative movement.

Following is the  statement of the committee on the announcement of the award:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the United States is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Congratulations Pam and Jim

Here’s the You Tube video which inspired the entrance at the Halpert-Beasly wedding. I hope Andy is feeling better (and after getting Erin’s attention his injury might not have been in vaid), and can’t believe Dwight managed to hook up with the hot bridesmaid.


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