Congratulations are in order to President Barack Obama for winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. We should be proud any time an American wins a Nobel Prize, and the Peace Prize, without a doubt, is the Nobel’s highest honor.
I have little patience for those Americans who cheered when Chicago lost out on its bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games, and I am equally baffled by those who denigrate their own President for simply being recognized for his efforts in restoring America’s international reputation, inspiring a sense of hope in America’s future- not just here but throughout the world.
And sure, it’s early in his Presidency- really early– and, sure, he has yet to fulfill many of the things he promised on the campaign trail. I think John Wasik, author of The Cul De Sac Syndrome says it best:
A Nobel Peace Prize is more than an acknowledgment of the grand gesture; it’s recognition of a paradigm shift that somehow has changed the world.
Obama’s victory here has less to do with specific accomplishments during the last nine months– and more to do with that paradigm shift. Remember, Obama campaigned for President for nearly two years, and during that campaign, he received contributions from hundreds of thousands of Americans. He didn’t just inspire Americans; he inspired citizens of the world, reminding them of America’s promise.
Does anyone remember the disdain with which Bush’s UN Ambassador, John Bolton, treated the UN and the International Community? Does anyone remember what it was like, for many of us Americans, to travel abroad during the Bush years? Remember “you’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists,” the attempt to split the world community with ultimatums, the go-it-alone mentality that diminished America’s stature? Remember when conservatives attempted to boycott France, pouring red wine into the gutters, simply for not buying into a war that, today, most Americans believe was a mistake?
I understand the criticisms; I really do: But this prize was an acknowledgment of America’s promise. In this respect, the prize was less about Obama and more about the change that swept through our country. You may not agree with that change. You may despise it. But you cannot deny its import. Look at these numbers:
If you read this blog, then you know: I am an unabashed supporter of President Obama, and I have been since January 2007.
Still, I think, regardless of our political persuasions, we should be proud when one of our own is bestowed with such an incredible honor.
Update: Geaux Rachel Maddow!