Don't get me wrong. I genuinely like President Obama. I voted for him. I canvased and campaigned for him. I generally approve of his overall leadership and still believe he could end up being one of the truly great presidents. He's certainly a huge improvement over George W. Bush, who was in my view the worst president this country's ever seen. However, nine months into his first term, Obama's yet to contribute any kind of lasting foreign accomplishment, so this Peace Prize makes a mockery both of Nobel and the man who may one day deserve such an honor.
Insert Kanye/Beyonce joke here.
It's a rare thing when liberals and conservatives can join together in criticizing the accomplishments of a good man, but that's the impact of this award. Salon's lefty Glenn Greenwald wrote: "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." Conservatives have been a little more direct.
Some very smart people have urged Obama to turn down the honor, and I wish he had. Obama, unfortunately, did not go that far. He did, however, put the win in perspective:
"Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize, men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace."Good words, and apparently good words were enough to win a Nobel Prize. It remains to be seen, however, whether good words will be enough to ease the discomfort of a nation embarrassed by the global effect of its leader's out-sized celebrity.
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