Tags: obama | nobel | criticism

Laureate Obama: Left Can't Explain it, Either

Friday, 09 Oct 2009 07:42 PM

By David A. Patten

President Barack Obama has finally achieved bipartisan consensus: Many on both the left and the right agree that a Nobel Peace Prize after less than nine months in office is embarrassingly over the top.

Of course, most Democrats applaud the move while the Republican response has been muted – understandable given the Nobel Committee's tradition of using the award to transmit hard-left political messages.

Many mainstream media figures and hardcore progressives are none too pleased either, however. Some feel that it will simply aggravate the nation's partisan divide. Others point out that the war in Afghanistan marches on.

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Of course, many Americans will no doubt celebrate the fact that only the third sitting U.S. president – after Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson in 1919 – will receive the coveted award.

That said, much of the ambivalence expressed Friday came from unlikely sources, including:

Filmmaker Michael Moore: He congratulated President Obama, but added, "You have to end our involvement in Afghanistan now. If you don't, you'll have no choice but to return the prize to Oslo."

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and author: "I’m nonplussed. I admire his efforts toward Middle East peace, but the prize still seems very premature. What has he done?"

Journalist Peter Beinart: Writing on The Daily Beast, Beinart remarked, "I like Barack Obama as much as the next liberal, but this is a farce. He’s done nothing to deserve the prize. Sure, he’s given some lovely speeches and launched some initiatives – on Iran, Israeli-Palestinian peace, climate change and nuclear disarmament – that might, if he’s really lucky and really good, make the world a more safe, more just, more peaceful world. But there’s absolutely no way to know if he’ll succeed, and by giving him the Nobel Prize as a kind of “atta boy,” the Nobel Committee is actually just highlighting the gap that conservatives have long highlighted: between Obamamania as global hype and Obama’s actual accomplishments."

Time Magazine's Nancy Gibbs: Gibbs suggests the prize is only going to make Obama's job harder. She writes: "The last thing Barack Obama needed at this moment in his presidency and our politics is a prize for a promise."

Bob Schieffer of CBS: The award, he worries, is "just going to widen the political divide in this country, not make it better."

Richard Kim on TheNation.com: The choice of Obama left him "a little bewildered," he says. Kim adds: "Obama got a nice vote of confidence from the Norwegians for his promises. But now, he has to actually earn the Nobel with his deeds. That will be hard to do if his administration continues to send such mixed signals on international cooperation and diplomacy."

Miread Corrigan-McGuire, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Winner: She posts: "I am very disappointed to hear that the Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama. They say this is for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples, and yet he continues the policy of militarism and occupation of Afghanistan, instead of dialogue and negotiations with all parties to the conflict."

Obama Supporter Michael Russnow: Writing on Huffington Post, columnist Russnow states: "Whatever one might feel about Obama, he has not earned this singular award."

Spelman College History Professor William Jelani Cobb: Cobb writes on Politico's The Arena blog: "At this point, President Obama is like a kid who gets a Porsche for his 16th birthday. It's wonderful but where do you go from there?"

Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com writes: "When I saw this morning's top New York Times headline – 'Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize' – I had the same immediate reaction which I'm certain many others had: this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website, that it was just some sort of strange joke someone was playing. Upon further reflection, that isn't all that far from the reaction I still have."

Naomi Klein: Appearing on DemocracyNow, the award-winning journalist and author says that she views the Committee's decision to present Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize as "very significant and disappointing, cheapening of the Nobel Prize…"

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