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Friday, October 9, 2009

The President Wins the Nobel Peace Prize?

You know something is rotten in Denmark when even the winner acts sheepishly surprised.

The Nobel committee said its decision was motivated by Obama's initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.

Yet the choice was stunning given the nomination deadline of Feb.1, less than two weeks after the Obama presidency began.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama woke up to the news a little before 6 a.m. EDT.

"The president was humbled to be selected by the committee," Gibbs said.

I didn't join the chorus of conservatives who proclaimed that when Chicago wasn't selected that was a slap in the face to President Obama. I didn't join in when they said that Chicago not getting the Olympics was some sort of a stunning rejection of his world influence and prestige. If the IOC is the standard bearer for prestige and world influence, we all have problems. Nor will I say that this represents any sort of a reaffirmation of Obama's influence. To give this president who's done scant little for peace is yet another sign of how the Nobel Peace Prize has allowed the political leanings of its selectors turn it more and more irrelevant. All anyone needs to know is that Obama will share this prize with Yasser Arafat. If a group gives a peace prize to Yasser Arafat, that says all you need to know about how much that prize matters.

This story will get some coverage for the next couple days. I'm sure the president will get a short term boost. It will be just as negligible as his hit following the Olympics. Ultimately, the ones taking the hit will be the committee that awards this prize. In a year, Afghanistan might be once again under the control of the Taliban. Iran may have a nuclear bomb, and the Middle East might be in a regional war, if not a full world war. All of this will have happened on Obama's watch and it will have happened right after he was given the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not saying it will happen and I'm certainly not rooting for it, but this quote speaks for itself.

It's an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our world a safer place for all," Tutu said. "It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama's message of hope."

The Nobel Peace Prize is supposed to be about what someone has accomplished not what they say they will accomplish. A lot of people say they stand for peace. Some follow through and others don't. Obama's legacy is still unwritten. The Nobel Peace Prize should have come following tangible progress toward peace rather than tangible speeches in which he says he stands for peace. The idea that a State Senator who spent most of his Senatorial term would win the Nobel Peace Prize simply for being president is simply laughable. There are never any shortage of qualified candidates and the Nobel Peace Prize committee simply took this award away from someone more deserving.

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