Tales from the Trail

Unveiling the Obama Doctrine

NOBEL-OBAMA/President Barack Obama did more than collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Besides the trumpet fanfare, the black-tie festivities, the pomp, the circumstance and of course the speech, he unveiled what Washington-watchers are calling the Obama doctrine. But what is it, exactly?

A quick online search shows an early mention of the Obama doctrine in March 2008, when Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were still slugging it out for the Democratic presidential nomination. The American Prospect cited Obama speeches starting in January of that election year and talked to Obama’s foreign policy team to get an idea of what the future president’s world view might be. One key quote from the candidate on the Iraq war was seen as defining the doctrine: ”I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.”

“An inextricable part of that doctrine is a relentless and thorough destruction of al-Qaeda,” The American Prospect said. “Is this hawkish? Is this dovish? It’s both and neither — an overhaul not just of our foreign policy but of how we think about foreign policy. And it might just be the future of American global leadership.”

More of the doctrine emerged, according to a column in The Washington Post, after Obama’s handling of the rescue of a U.S. ship captain from Somali pirates in April 2009, in which Obama said little and relied on Navy SEALs to free the captive: “The Obama Doctrine seeks to regain the world’s sympathy by acknowledging that while the United States is a great nation built on worthy principles, it is not perfect.”

Fast-forward to Oslo and Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech, which is winning praise from perennial Obama critics Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

No one like a wife to keep even a peace laureate honest

NOBEL-OBAMA/

Cheering crowds greeted U.S. President Barack Obama in Norway as he received one of the world’s great honors but at least one person was there to ensure that the pomp and circumstance of winning the Nobel Peace Prize did not go to his head.

When her husband, who is not only president but a best-selling author, wrote seven lines of text in the guest book at the Nobel Institute on Thursday, first lady Michelle Obama asked if he were writing a book, and then commented as she prepared to write her entry: “Mine won’t be as long.”

Obama joshed gently back: ”She will resist writing something sarcastic since this will be recorded for the future.”

How Obama’s Nobel speech played in Washington

NOBEL-OBAMA/For a man who just won the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama didn’t look all that happy as he strode to the lectern in Oslo. He had that downturned smile that was almost an acknowledgement of all the critics who say the award is premature — especially for a commander-in-chief who has just vowed to send 30,000 more U.S. troops into harm’s way in Afghanistan.

The speech itself didn’t make much of a splash on morning television in Washington. None of the major TV networks carried it live, though CNN did, cutting away from Obama from time to time to show an audience listening attentively, with a few eyelids drooping. But viewers didn’t have many options if they wanted to see the speech as it happened. They could see a blink of Obama sandwiched in between the televised feature stories — Dillie the Deer, a taped interview with first lady Michelle Obama, a duel interview with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman to promote their new movie.

The Washington Post ran a live feed on its Web site; after the speech ended, there was a story and a photo slide show. The New York Times posted a text of the address. The Drudge Report – a one-stop online gateway for some in Washington — ran two small headlines about the Nobel ceremony (“Obama defends US wars as he accepts peace prize…” and  ”Norwegians Incensed Over Obama Snubs…”) over the main story. Just after the speech it was “SNOW DRIFTS TO 15FT!” but later it changed to “DEMS TO LIFT DEBT CEILING BY $1.8 TRILLION!”