I have too many thoughts swirling in my head to be able to write right now the post on the President’s Nobel Prize I would really like to write. When I first heard it this morning, it struck me as strange. I thought I had misread the chyron on my TV monitor. When I realized it wasn’t my absence of coffee which caused me to read that the President had won the Nobel Prize, I asked the question I’d been asking at least since the Spring of 2008 when I noticed the devotion of so many of the then-presidential candidate’s admirers to their man:
What has he accomplished to deserve such accolades?
So, I hacked out a quick post, still uncertain what I wanted to say. And then when I read something a critic had written in our comments section, it seemed I understood why the Nobel Committee decided to bestow this particular honor on a man of so few accomplishments: “Its really just the “Not a warmongering, torturing neocon, thank god!” award.” The Nobel Committee honored him for not being George W. Bush.
Indeed, that seems to be the nature of his appeal and the entire basis of much of his rhetoric and many of his policies–that he’s not his immediate predecessor.
Even lefty Glenn Greenwald finds this award “ludicrous.” In fact, his reaction on hearing the news was similar to my own, that “this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website“.
Commenting on former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton’s remarks on FoxNews, Ed Morrissey finds that good man got at why “why many of us found it both risible and offensive“:
Risible in the sense that Obama had been President for 12 days when he got nominated and hasn’t accomplished anything on the world stage since — no new treaties, no peace brokering, and certainly no change in the Bush “war priorities” that they explicitly criticized in their 2002 award to Jimmy Carter. Offensive in the sense that it smacks of lecturing America on our foreign policy rather than focusing on real efforts for peace, a number of which the Nobel committee overlooked, although by this point it’s so unsurprising as to be only barely offensive
Indeed, let me ask again, what has the president accomplished (beyond being elected)? What did accomplish before he was elected president to merit the accolades of his admirers? What has he accomplished since his inauguration to earn what was once a prestigious prize?
Has he reconciled the Hatfields and McCoys? Has he ushered in a new era of civility into America’s politics and reduced the polarization that has defined it for these past sixteen to twenty years? Has he effected greater cooperation among our allies?
Has he resolved the political stalemate in Honduras while respecting the constitution of that Central American republic? Has he brought Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace? Has he convinced Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program? Or stopped the regime from cracking down on dissidents? Or successfully pushed the regime to respond peacefully to protesters’ concerns?
Has he ended North Korea’s belligerent attitude toward the world? Has his Cairo Speech led to any real accomplishments in the Middle East, ending bloodshed and opening up closed societies, replacing rancor with cooperation?
Has he caused terrorists to stop attacking civilians in Pakistan as they did today? Has he implemented a policy which will end the bloodshed in war-torn Afghanistan?
Did he end a war as did his predecessor Theodore Roosevelt when he took the 1906 honor?
In short, what my friends, has this man accomplished to earn such an honor?
At least since 2001, when the committee bestowed the honor on Kofi Annan and the United Nations, the prize has been politicized, honoring those who have criticized a robust American foreign policy and, by and large, ignoring those who have made real accomplishments toward promoting pece.
UPDATE: This is what you get from not checking the internets during the day. Seems Ann Althouse blogged on this long before I did: ““They are handing him the Nobel Peace Prize because he isn’t George Bush.” She writes, “A man on the street in Egypt nails it.” (H/t: Glenn.)