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!
FiveThirtyEight.com has a good piece on the award. Barack Obama was acting in the name of peace long before he became president, for championing democratic involvement through community organizing and for advocating nuclear nonproliferation and other causes in the Senate.
I agree in part with the committee’s choice if, for no other reason, than in his fostering a new playing field in international relations. His election was shot in the arm for multilateral cooperation and in boosting America’s image in the world.
Alfred Nobel himself set the criteria for the award in his will: “…to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
I think the President fits this description well.
Even if the Nobel Peace Prize is known as a prestigious award, it is inevitably a *political* award, subject to political realities. The Prize was as much an award to Barack Obama qua Barack Obama as it was an award for his *not being* George W. Bush.
I think the President responded well by accepting the award on behalf of American leadership and by donating the prize money to charity.
Cheers, Mr. President!
Good points, Matt. People seem to forget: You don’t have to be an elected leader to win the prize, and Obama’s work, prior to the election, was incredibly important.
He spoke out against the War in Iraq when most would have considered such a move political suicide. But he was right.
You pegged it right…the Town Talk had to include some of their own passive-aggressive version of an editorial about Obama’s win.
Strangely enough it seems they had written the title of the piece before deciding on the final version.
Yeah, for the record, I predicted the TT snarkiness on Facebook, not here on the blog or on the Twitter.
I just assume that, on national news stories, they usually follow whatever talking points they hear on Faux Noise during the day. And doesn’t Glenn Beck come on before the deadline?
Well put, Lamar. So nice to see someone locally making a statement like this. I get tired of defending the decision to the cynics, correcting them on the vitriol that Beck/Limbaugh spread, and then have them look at me like I’m an idiot for not joining in the Obama-hating-club. Your blog is a pillar in an otherwise drab area. I swear, I’ve had more people unfriend me on Facebook for just that reason–I suppose I’m more politically vocal in writing than in person…
Kenneth, thanks man. Be sure to check out the Rachel Maddow video.
She really makes a great case.
I have little regard for the Nobel Peace Prize. When they awarded it to Gorbachev and didn’t share it with Reagan, that was a big slight in my estimation. Likewise, in the case of Carter (whom I deeply despise as a politician) – he should have shared the 1978 award with Sadat and Begin. They tried to rectify that with his 2002 outright award (which I agree that his work on elections around the world probably warrant separate consideration, but the Camp David accords are still the only significant accomplishment of his entire life.)
In this case, it does further a certain political agenda, but is based on nothing of substance, but like the entire Obama administration is of flash, style, “hope” and “change”. The fact that he won by “not being Bush” – is both laughable and true. I wonder where my award is for “not being Bush”….
Thank you for that post! I am also astonished at the extreme backlash. I don’t think people understand what the Nobel is really about. If countries around the world are looking at us in a different, more positive light because of one man, then that man deserves the highest honors.
Well, Mr. White,
You have finally crossed the line. “Geauxbama?” You have tainted the sacred language of our beloved heritage. Sure, I understand your lame attempt at cleverness, Go President Obama. But, you actually said Go, Alabama! Have you no decency? Ignatius J. Reilly spoke of the necessity of balance between theology and geometry. Your fancy, hi-falutant, non-Louisiana education apparently didn’t cover the whole book. I recommend remedial studies immediately!
We must speak french amongst ourselves, so they won’t know what we’re thinking. Geaux Tigres!