In a sign that some people just can’t get over the fact that they don’t have George Bush to kick around any more, the Nobel Committee awarded the Pretty Words Peace Prize today to a man who has yet to accomplish anything other than not being George Bush:
President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday in a stunning decision designed to encourage his initiatives to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.
Nobel observers were shocked by the unexpected choice so early in the Obama presidency, which began less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline.
The Nobel Committee lauded the change in global mood wrought by Obama’s calls for peace and cooperation but recognized initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.
So in the last three years, the Nobel Committee has given a Peace Prize to Al Gore for making a dishonest movie and to Barack Obama for making a handful of speeches that have yet to bear any fruit. Go back ten years and its laureates have included the International Atomic Energy Agency (for ineffective actions encouraging North Korea and Iran to develop nuclear weapons), Jimmy Carter (for ignorant and borderline anti-Semitic meddling in the Middle East), and to the United Nations and Kofi Annan (for setting new records for corruption, incompetence, and damage done to innocents by an international organization). I think it’s safe to say that an award that once honored Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa, Andrei Sakharov, Norman Borlaug, Martin Luther King Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, and Albert Schweitzer can officially be laid to rest.
UPDATE: As a couple of commenters have already noted, heads all over the “far right” and at Fox News are just exploding:
The award of this year’s Nobel peace prize to President Obama will be met with widespread incredulity, consternation in many capitals and probably deep embarrassment by the President himself.
Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.
Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.
Oops, what a minute–that the Times of London. How about this:
So what do you think of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize? I’m nonplussed — I admire his efforts toward Middle East peace, but the prize still seems very premature. What has he done?
Obama’s work on the Middle East, mostly through Senator Mitchell’s efforts, are sensible but haven’t produced any results yet. They certainly don’t match the intensive efforts that Bill Clinton made with his Middle East peace negotiations in the fall of 2000. Likewise, Obama’s efforts on nuclear disarmament/non-proliferation are important, but they are purely an aspiration. All the hard work is yet to come — and trying to renegotiate the NPT will be very hard indeed.
In other areas, Obama has done little.
Dang, that’s Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. OK, here’s one:
“I am a genuine admirer of Obama. And I am very pleased that George W. Bush is no longer president. But I doubt that I am alone in wondering whether this award is slightly premature. It is hard to point to a single place where Obama’s efforts have actually brought about peace – Gaza, Iran, Sri Lanka?
“While it is OK to give school children prizes for ‘effort’ — my kids get them all the time — I think international statesmen should probably be held to a higher standard,” he wrote.
Shoot, that’s Gideon Rachman, a foreign affairs columnist for the Financial Times. Wait, these two guys get it about right:
MATT LAUER: There are no major foreign policy achievements to date … In some ways he wins this for not being George W. Bush.
DAVID GREGORY: That’s an inescapable conclusion.
Of course, those two are on NBC, not Fox. But I’m sure the right is surprised and dismayed as well.