“When small men cast long shadows, you know the sun is setting.”
Lao Tzu

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John Médaille is a businessman in Irving, Texas, and also an Instructor in Theology at the University of Dallas, where he teaches a unique course on the Social Encyclicals for Business Students. He is the father of five, grandfather of two, and husband of one. He is the author of The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace and is finishing up another book, Equity and Equilibrium: The Political Economy of Distributism. John also blogs at The Distributist Review.


  1. What a silly post does no credit to FPR as a place of meditation on “place, limits, and liberty.” If much of President Obama’s work is in front of him, it’s just a wrong to declare him a “small man” now as it is to reward him for the Nobel Prize now. A proper conservative response, one that speaks to “limits,” would be that the Nobel Prize committee should base its criteria more on work accomplished than the promise of one’s work—no matter how bright the promise. And because Obama is more conservative than people credit him, I predict that he’ll bluntly say that, while he appreciates the committee’s work, he feels he has A LOT to do to justify the award. – TL

  2. “The Sun Also Rises” Ernest Hemingway

    If Obama is such a small man, then we truly live in a world of dwarfs.

  3. Some pundit suggested that, like Mr. Obama’s election to the presidency, his Nobel Peace Prize is a lifetime pre-achievement award.

  4. Mr. Medaille,
    I believe this to be your most accurate and important post here at FPR. Keep up the good work.

  5. “I believe this to be your most accurate and important post here at FPR. Keep up the good work.”

    This post has been an eye-opener for me. I have found much to think about and even agree with in Mr. Medaille’s posts on economics and distributism. This post however smacks of the cheap hathos emanating from the cheap seats on the far right. If this is Mr. Medaille’s most accurate and important post, the least he could do is give a hat-tip to Rod Dreher’s crunchy comboxes from whence he cut and pasted it.

  6. Artie, I didn’t claim it as the most important post; I’ll leave it to you to judge the value of the Mr. Cheeks’ comments. As far as it being the kind of comment that emanates from the right, yes. And from the left. There has been a more or less universal WTF over this one; even Obama was a bit perplexed by it.

    And no, I was not the first to use it, but as I told Sally, I would certainly spread it. As recently as five years ago, Mr. Obama was a minor player in the Illinois legislature. And while his rise is impressive, it is a bit early to pass out grand awards. I do like Mr. Obama, though we certainly have our disagreements. But I am convinced that he will fail–already has failed. I hope I am wrong on that score, but I don’t think so. In fact, I think he was dead in the water the day he appointed Geithner, Summers, and Volcker, the very people who had such a big hand in causing this crises. Volcker single-handedly caused the S&L crises of the 80’s.

  7. Anyone who fails to perceive even a minute tinge of farce and irony in granting an international peace prize to a 48 year old one term Congressman, 9-month President who presides over an extralegal prison camp-torture boutique in Guantanamo and two wars of occupation older than the World Wars themselves and an economic bailout freighted heavily toward banks “too large to fail” ..well, you are the perfect citizen for this “New World Order”.

    Still though, I like the idea of this fellow getting the same prize as Henry Kissinger, given Henry’s consistent record of Imperial Byzantinism. I’m just sorry that nettlesome robbery at the Watergate happened before they could award it to Nixon.

    A round of fresh diapers to everyone.

  8. To seek in the interests of peace to impose and encourage the current ambivalent American model of capitalism in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq is not really conducive to lasting peace and harmony. Better perhaps than theocratic dictatorship but not that much for ordinary working people. Could it really be expected the Nobel committee would understand this?

  9. Using Lao Tzu to paint Obama as ‘small’ comes off like a cheap shot, and premature, just like the Nobel prize award, if for different motives. Give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one. He didn’t ask for the award. I don’t think its possible to overstate the incredible mess Obama inherited from the Bush administration and the entrenched resistance to change of any kind to the status quo. It remains to be seen if Obama will the fill the shoes of the big man casting big shadows who truly deserves Nobel prizes and accolades for his foreign policies.

    If Obama is such a small man, where are the big men stepping up and announcing the big solutions? It’s one thing to sit on the front porch with a cocktail and rail against small men coopted by the Fed and Wall Street, it’s another to actually do something about it.

  10. If Obama is such a small man, where are the big men stepping up and announcing the big solutions? It’s one thing to sit on the front porch with a cocktail and rail against small men coopted by the Fed and Wall Street, it’s another to actually do something about it.

    There are few, and they are for the most part ignored by the elites. There is very little that can be done with respect to the imperial presidency — the best possible solution is precisely to do what can be done at the local level.

  11. While some have been dueling over the validity of applying a quote from a Chinese sage to the awardee of a dubious award and while others have been casting about their river of shallow acquaintance with international statesmanship, Summer Patriot was hauling in the day’s limit far from the waters abutting the front porch.

    Now, go read thiscool and calculated piece of intelligent writing and be prepared to be disabused of any notion of stupidity being behind the Nobel Committee’s decision or any notion of silliness behind Mr. Médaille’s choice to quote from Lao Tzu. It’s easy to forget in the tsunami of sheer words coming from the man– that Obama really does mean what he says about Islam and Israel.

  12. Ah, that clears it up: Obama got the award for his antisemitism. It all makes perfect sense now, knowing what a hotbed of antisemitism the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee is. Norway uber alles, and all that.

  13. gentle persons:

    mr. jay’s remarks at summer patriot, winter soldier make sense to me. his is a pretty cogent analysis, seems to me.

    john jay

    p.s. thank you, mizze (nicknamed “missy” as a child?) for your very kind and flattering remarks, … , and i applaud you for your recognition that obama and ilk really do mean what they say about islam and israe. please read, everyone, “changing course” by the u.s.–muslim engagement group, a george soros organization fronted by madeline albright. it is all made perfectly clear there, what is intended for islam, and what is intended for israel and the jews. suffice it to say, the radical left has chosen islam and its 1.5 billion adherents over israel and the approximately 12 million jews who inhabit the planet. that this is at the expense of the very values which underpin our civilization and heritage, i would say our civilization and heritage was at some peril.

    you are a remarkably erudite group here. far nicer than i. but, i enjoy your company.

  14. What seems healthy to me with regard to politicians is to look beneath the hype for two things; do their actions belie their words and perhaps even more important how useful are the conceptual ideas that drive their actions. For example, I do not see the conceptual awareness in Obama of why government fiscal and global trading policy combined with the flawed market fundamentalism of the Conservative Libertarians undermined America. This is important because of America’s global economic power. The failures of previous post-war Republican and Democratic governments to have the right conceptual ideas have lead to the current world wide recession and economic distress leads to wars as the experience of Germany under Hitler shows us. Obama can pursue all the diplomacy he wants but if his economic policies are continuing to allow the possibility of further world-wide economic recessions and tensions what use is the diplomacy? It may be true that man and woman do not live by bread alone but when the rations are meager there can be trouble!

  15. for a site that decrys the shallowness of modern life, to engage in all this outrage over this is startling. A society that gets outraged over the trivial while ignoring the profound is a truly coorupt society. Sorry to see this site get caught up outrage over the trivial.

    The holocaust was something worth being outraged about. 20 million people who are enslaved in our world today is worth outrage.

    More posts and responses to this trivia than to anything I hav
    e seen posted here in months.

    Guess posts on Hannah Montan will be next.

  16. cecelia:

    discussing an act, the award of the nobel prize, which may very well have an impact upon the survival of israel hardly seems trivial to me, nor i suspect to the 6 or 8 million jews who live in israel.

    you opine that the holocaust was not trivial, something worth being outraged about, i think you said. i would think, therefore, that you would consider the fate of the 6-8 million jews who currently live in israel something worth “outrage” about.

    what obama has said, what the nobel prize committee has done, is not trivial, considered in the light that it very may well guide u.s. and euro forgeign with regard to israel. if that is the case, it does not portend well, because the u.s. and the euro union have quite pointedly chosen islam over judaism, in clear repudiation of the standards of any western heritage or the values of western civilization.

    this hardly seems trivial to me.

    john jay

    p.s. read the link in mizze’s post, if you will.

  17. John Jay, re: Mizz E, it’s a Southern thing.

    For me, your article was a needed and simple re.minder: The subtext of the recent NP award is: “Eurabia Inches Forward”

    In these days of combustible jihadists and “we are all the same,” it’s hard to see the 1930s – World War II alliance of Arabs with European Nazis and fascists has been resurrected.

    For those who have not yet bought and read Bat Ye’or’s “The Dhimmi”, or “The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam”, or “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis”, here is a pdf article about Islam and the Dhimmi that can be easily read and digested.

    The number of us “groundlings”, hip to ways of the Mahomedans, is growing.

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