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Ending politics at the water’s edge and preserving the old united front Kevin Hulten

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Published on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 by Kevin Hulten

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Growing up, every class had one    the guy who made a mission of rooting against your favorite sports teams just because. This “guy” may or may not have had a team of his own – that didn’t matter. He just wants your team to lose. Hell, he probably sat at home with voodoo dolls of your team’s quarterback sticking needles through his head and praying for concussions.  When your team loses, this guy piles it on and revels in the misery. When your team wins, well, the opponent sucked, the refs gave it to you, you got lucky, you’ll lose next week, and I still hate you.

This guy grew up, got fat and bitter, hypocritically abused synthetic heroin for a number of years, got a job on Monday Night Football, got fired for making possibly racist statements, and then became the most listened to talk show host in the country.

We’ll get back to the first guy in a bit. Let’s switch gears to a different guy, who died over a hundred years ago.

This guy from over a hundred years ago? His obituary read “The merchant of death is dead,” and went on to say, “(the deceased) became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”

Who? The inventor of the extra value meal? Hitler? The Texas judicial system?

Nope. Believe it or not this is the obituary of Arthur Nobel – he who created the Nobel Prize.

Luckily for old Arthur, he wasn’t dead yet when he read the aforementioned obituary. Some people just thought he was. Hell, it was 1888, and they hadn’t invented Twitter yet, so old Art wasn’t exactly able to keep everyone abreast of his day-to-day activities.

So anyway, some folks at this French newspaper thought he was dead, they wrote the obit; Arthur read said obit and thought to himself, “Hmm. Not exactly the turn of phrase I’d like to grace the old tombstone”. Seeing as how Arthur had spent most of his professional life inventing and improving on the explosive compound known as Dynamite, Arthur could understand why his legacy might be, uh, misinterpreted.

So he set out to make amends, while he was still alive.

Nobel set up a substantial endowment, setting aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without discretion due to race, sex or nationality. He set up five prize categories – the first four dealt with academic pursuits – and the fifth was the big guy. The fifth prize was to be awarded to the person or society that rendered the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace.

As we are all well aware by now, it was announced last Friday that President Barack Obama will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, becoming only the third sitting American president to win the award and the first since Woodrow Wilson since 1919.

With regard to this news, I imagine that most Americans were somewhere on the emotional spectrum from “extremely proud, God Bless America” to “that’s not bad, good on him, but we still have some other stuff to do”.

But that first guy, the guy who rooted against your favorite team in grade school though, he was off the spectrum completely.  He cackled with glee and pressed forward an attack, ridiculing the Nobel Prize, comparing the recipient to the Antichrist, and stating that Obama’s Nobel Prize was a bigger disgrace than ‘losing’ the Olympics to Rio.

In fact, if you compared this guy’s response to the official Taliban and Al Qaeda responses to the Nobel decision, you would find that the people who are actually killing Americans on a day to day basis were more calm and civil in their condemning of the award. I mean, when you’re on the same side as the Taliban and Al Qaeda – but you come off as the shrill imbalanced scripture abusing psycho, you know you’ve lost all bearing on reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there isn’t ground for people to debate the merits of the Obama Nobel. Of course there is. There is always place for civilized debate. And while it’s really not up to us whom the Nobel committee or the rest of the world sees as the person who most advanced the cause of worldwide brotherhood over the last year, we can certainly disagree with them if we so choose.

I’m glad that most of the people I know, in politics or not, conservative or liberal, are able to keep a civil tone when discussing events like this. I’m glad that we can all find things in common that we like. Football, the middle of the Tootsie pop, babies, applesauce, America, etc. At the end of the day there should be certain things we should all be proud of, certain things that can’t be used as ammunition for the endless political one-upsmanship game. One would hope that the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to a sitting president would be such an occasion.

In the 1940’s, a wise conservative Republican Senator from Michigan named Arthur Vandernburg coined one of the most well loved and appropriate phrases in the political quote pantheon when he said, “To me, ‘bipartisan foreign policy’ means a mutual effort, under our indispensable, two-party system, to unite our official voice at the water’s edge so that America speaks with one voice to those who would divide and conquer us and the free world.”

This has later been shortened to “Politics end at the water’s edge”.

This is kinda like how mom and dad can argue all they want behind closed doors, but in front of the kids, they put together the old united front.

That’s how I feel about this whole mess. Let’s debate it all we want, but when the neighbors are looking to us for leadership, -  - hell, when the neighbors give our leader an award saying he pretty much inspired the rest of the world - - we need to put up the old united front and try to avoid comparing Obama to the antichrist while joining sides with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Is that really too much to ask?

Oh, and that guy who always rooted against our football team? That guy who got fired from Monday Night Football? That guy who is roasting Obama in effigy alongside fanatical tribesman in the hills of Tora Bora…well, he’s still trying to find that team of his own to root for, and despite all his millions, he can’t buy his way in. Google “St. Louis Rams sale and NFL players union” and you’ll see what I mean.

Kevin Hulten is a former editor of the Lake Stevens Journal and runs the Purple and Gold Pigskin site at Send comments or questions to

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