Peggy Noonan has an excellent idea.
How about an unapologetic address, a speech, with the world's elites leaning forward and listening, about the meaning of America? A speech that shows a grounded and sophisticated love for his country and its great traditions and history. Not a nationalistic speech, not a prideful one, but a loving one.
For instance: The Peace Prize judges won't see it this way, but America has gone to Europe twice in the past century to fight for peace. This is an old concept, and has to do with killing killers so they can't kill anymore. It cost America a lot to do this, and we kept no territory, as they say, beyond the graves where our soldiers lie. America then taxed itself and gave its wealth not only to its allies but to its former adversaries, to help them rebuild. We didn't actually have to do this. We did it to make the world better. We did it to foster peace. (They should give us a prize.)
America hasn't just helped the world, it literally lit the world with its inventions, which are the product of its freedoms. The lights under which the Peace Prize judges read, and rejected, the worthy nominations? Why, those lights were invented by an American. The emails the committee members sent to each other, sharing their banal insights on leadership? They came through the Internet. Who invented the Internet? It was a Norwegian bureaucrat with a long face and hair on his nose and little plastic geometric eyeglasses? Oh wait, it was Americans. The members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee are healthy because they have been inoculated against diseases such as polio. Who invented the polio vaccine, an enfeebled old leftist academic in Oslo? Nah, it was a man named Jonas Salk. He was an American.
Europe's elites experience Mr. Obama as a historical accident that needs and deserves their encouragement. Actually he was elected with 69.5 million votes, and you know, they were cast by Americans. Go figure.
Mr. Obama should get the spotlight off himself and put it on the great thing that yielded him up and made him possible.
President Obama gave a little of this in his speech on Friday, so I am not skeptical that he could do this. I'm not sure he'll have the political will to, however.