Newsweek writer and native Australian Katie Connolly set out to lecture American readers today on the magazine's Gaggle blog yesterday about how Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize isn't really about the man or the United States as a country, but rather the U.S. as a lofty ideal -- an ideal she reckons in the eyes of "the collective world" to have been "almost entirely undone" by the Bush administration.
As such, Connolly tells us in her December 9 post that Obama had to show kindly Norweigans that his countrymen aren't such a rude, rabble-rousing lot after all, an impression she insists was given by how many Americans exercised that all-too-American ideal of free speech when they criticized the awarding of the Nobel to the freshman president (emphases mine):
His international audience wants to know how he imagines their roles in a world shaped by an as yet unwritten Obama doctrine. They want to know what his America looks like from their perches. And unlike many Americans, they're not yet tired of Obama's oratory.
Of course the rash of disparaging remarks upon the Nobel announcement permeated the international echo chamber as well. Watching the gift of this honor to their president be so thoroughly mocked by his constituents no doubt did some harm to a newly rejuvenated affection for America abroad. Where many countries might take a moment to register the pride of international recognition, Americans didn't even pause before issuing their resounding rejection. So, to win over the Oslo crowd once more, Obama must be the Charmer in Chief. Like any half-decent wooer, he needs to make his words about them: their place, their relationships and their desire for engagement. Moreover, he needs to rearticulate a vision of the America that the Nobel world wants and needs it to be. Because that, after all, was what this award was really all about.