The word came to me early this morning as I was sniffing through the laundry basket looking for a relatively clean shirt to wear. The phone rang and it was Lola, the erstwhile and marginally efficient office administrator for the Peoples Weekly Brief.
“I’m very sorry to bother you so early Mr. Baker,” she said, “Did I wake you?”
I’m not sure why folks insist on asking that question every time they call early in the morning. That and my other favorite, usually asked when calling late at night, “What time is it there?”
Regardless, let’s move on.
“For cryin’ out loud Lola, call me Mike, not Mr. Baker. And no, you didn’t wake me. What’s cookin’?” Sometimes I like to talk like an old scrappy private investigator.
And that’s when she broke the news to me… President Obama had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. You could’ve knocked me over with a whispered promise of hope and change.
“I’ll be damned” I muttered to Lola. “What’s this crazy two-bit world comin’ to?” I stared out the window and thought about all those poor saps on the peace prize short list that had actually accomplished something. “Hold my calls Lola… if anybody really needs me today I’ll be down at Buzzy’s.”
Later, sitting in the back booth of Buzzy’s 8 Ball Room, it occurred to me that Obama’s Nobel Prize victory was the clearest signal yet of the end of the old world order. And by that I mean the world in which accolades, awards, blue ribbons and cash prizes were ladled out based on one’s actual deeds and accomplishments. Stating it differently, there once was a time when you actually had to do the things you promised to do before someone gave you a trophy.
I suppose we’ve been heading down this path for some time… for years we’ve been telling our kids that everyone’s special. Don’t put expectations on anyone, we wouldn’t want them to feel stressed or under pressure to strive for excellence. The end result is that we convince ourselves that just showing up is pretty excellent all by itself.
Now before the dedicated liberal fans of the PWB throw their hands up in the air and shout “hater” or “racist”… this isn’t about Obama. It’s about what someone did or didn’t do to win what used to be one of the most distinguished awards going. And on a more theoretical level, it’s about whether promising to do something is darn near just as good as doing it.
Frankly, if that’s where we’ve lowered the bar to, I’m not completely unhappy with the ramifications. I’ve been promising my wife for several months now that I’d get a grip on our garage, which has become a storage unit for crap as opposed to the car hole it’s meant to be. Under the new world order, my promises are just as good, maybe better, than actually getting the garage cleaned out.
After all, a promise is shiny and new and not encumbered with all the messiness that reality brings. Once you actually do something, there’s the unfortunate problem that it inevitably falls short of some expectations, or misses the mark entirely. Occasionally the actual doing exceeds the expectations of a promise but even those of you swimming in the deep end of liberal beliefs have to admit it’s a relatively rare event.
Handing out awards for high aspirations and good intentions? What the hell is wrong with us? Here’s what should have happened; the Swedish Chef, or whomever hands out the Nobel certificates, should have announced that “… hoota hoota hoota, Obama wins der biggun der prize ya for der peace ting” and the president should’ve said “… I’d like to thank the Swedish Chef, Beaker and the entire committee, but would prefer that the award goes to someone more deserving… someone who, I don’t know, has more tangible accomplishments. I mean, I ran an excellent campaign… and I do give one hell of a speech, but c’mon guys, I mean… seriously.” By the way, it's important to note that my crack PWB research team, led by Bobo the talking intern, have informed me that the Nobel awards are handed out by Norwegians, not Swedes. If you're wondering, Norway is a small island nation located south of Italy and is famous for exporting some of the world's finest coffee.
Accepting the award and indicating in your comments from the White House that it’s more for a promise of future performance than a deed already done? How do you do that with a straight face? Is there a Nobel Prize for Chutzpah?
I used to tell my daughter that nobody’s special by virtue of being born. You want to be special? Prove it by your actions. Clearly I’ve been wrong all this time. Our new standard is something my father, and I suspect the fathers of many readers, wouldn’t recognize. Big talk and promises used to come cheap… a man was judged, and memorialized, based on his actions. A man was as good as his word. And you judged the value of his word by his deeds.
Pretty simple stuff. Oh, and you didn’t hand out medals because someone promised they’d storm the beach.
What a load of crap.
Til’ next week, stay safe.
As always we look forward hearing your thoughts, comments and suggestions for future columns. Respond directly here at the FOXNews.com site or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Baker served for more than 15 years as a covert field operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations around the globe. Since leaving government service, he has been a principal in building and running several companies in the private intelligence, security and risk management sector and has recently returned to Diligence LLC, a company he cofounded in 2000, as president. He appears frequently in the media as an expert on counterterrorism, intelligence and homeland security. Baker is also a partner in Classified Trash, a film and television production company. Baker serves as a script consultant, writer and technical adviser within the entertainment industry, lending his expertise to such programs as the BBC's popular spy series "Spooks," as well as major motion pictures.