October 9, 2009

Responses to Obama’s Nobel Prize

I think I’ll update this throughout the day. Flockers, feel free to update the list as well. Or people can email me or put quotes in comments.

You can see the clusterflock comments here.

Josh Marshall:

This is an odd award. You’d expect it to come later in Obama’s presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the ‘hyper-power’ as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration.

Michael Steele:

“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?’ It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain – President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”

Steve Benen:

For all the recognition of George W. Bush’s unpopularity, it’s easy to overlook the ways in which the international community was truly mortified by the U.S. leadership during the Bush era. The irreplaceable leading nation could no longer be trusted to do the right thing — on use of force, torture, rule of law, international cooperation, democratic norms, even climate change. We’d reached a point at which much of the world was poised to simply give up on America’s role as a global leader.

And, love him or hate him, President Obama changed this. I doubt anyone on the Nobel committee would admit it, but the Peace Prize is, to a certain extent, an implicit “thank you” to the United States for reclaiming its rightful place on the global stage.

Andrew Sullivan:

I’ve had some coffee now. Reading through all the reactions, compiled by Chris and Patrick, there are two obvious points: this is premature and this is thoroughly deserved.

Both are right. I don’t think Americans fully absorbed the depths to which this country’s reputation had sunk under the Cheney era. That’s understandable. And so they also haven’t fully absorbed the turn-around in the world’s view of America that Obama and the American people have accomplished. Of course, this has yet to bear real fruit. But you can begin to see how it could; and I hope more see both the peaceful intentions and the steely resolve of this man to persevere.

Rush Limbaugh:

“This fully exposes the illusion that is Barack Obama,” Limbaugh told POLITICO in an e-mail. “And with this ‘award’ the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States.”

Limbaugh continued: “They love a weakened, neutered U.S, and this is their way of promoting that concept. I think God has a great sense of humor, too.”

Andy McCarthy:

I’m not all for Americans winning international prizes, especially the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, I’m vigorously against it. The transnational progressives who pass out these accolades believe America is the problem in the world, the main threat to peace, the impediment to “progress,” etc. The award is a symbolic statement of opposition to American exceptionalism, American might, American capitalism, American self-determinism, and American pursuit of America’s interests in the world. That is why Obama could win it based on only ten days in office — merely by capturing the White House and the levers of power, he stands to do more for the Left’s “knock America off its pedestal” program than any figure in history.

After a number of years, the NFL renamed its Super Bowl trophy after its most fitting recipient — it’s now called the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I’d like to see the Nobel Foundation follow suit. If today’s headlines said, “Barack Obama Wins Yasser Arafat Prize,” that would be perfect.

Barack Obama:

“Well, this is not how I expected to wake up this morning.

After I received the news, Malia walked in and said, ‘Daddy, you won the Nobel Peace Prize, and it is Bo’s birthday.’

And then Sasha added, ‘Plus, we have a three-day weekend coming up.’

So it’s — it’s good to have kids to keep things in perspective.”

John McCain:

I congratulate President Obama on receiving this prestigious award. I join my fellow Americans in expressing pride in our President on this occasion.


I think part of their decision-making was expectations. And I’m sure the president understands that he now has even more to live up to. But as Americans, we’re proud when our president receives an award of that prestigious category.

William Kristol:

I don’t even think we’ll need to comment. We could point out that peace hasn’t broken out anywhere yet during President Obama’s tenure, or that even his various peace efforts haven’t yet begun to make much progress. We could note that, if the Swedes Norwegians wanted to give the Nobel Peace Prize to an American, it would have been been better to give it to Sen. John McCain for having the guts to push through the surge in Iraq, which has brought relative peace to that country. But that would be overkill. The choice is so self-evidently Not a Parody that no explanation is required or possible.

George Bush:

A source tells TPMDC that “needless to say,” President George W. Bush isn’t going to issue anything about President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize win today.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

We hope that this gives him the incentive to walk in the path of bringing justice to the world order.

We are not upset and we hope that by receiving this prize he will start taking practical steps to remove injustice in the world.

Peter Beinart:

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

Glenn Greenwald:

Through no fault of his own, Obama presides over a massive war-making state that spends on its military close to what the rest of the world spends combined. The U.S. accounts for almost 70% of worldwide arms sales. We’re currently occupying and waging wars in two separate Muslim countries and making clear we reserve the “right” to attack a third. Someone who made meaningful changes to those realities would truly be a man of peace. It’s unreasonable to expect that Obama would magically transform all of this in nine months, and he certainly hasn’t. Instead, he presides over it and is continuing much of it. One can reasonably debate how much blame he merits for all of that, but there are simply no meaningful “peace” accomplishment in his record — at least not yet — and there’s plenty of the opposite. That’s what makes this Prize so painfully and self-evidently ludicrous.

Dan Killian:

Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee cited “some really nice things Barack Obama has said” as the basis for the reward.

In what is no doubt a slightly racist train of thought, I’m reminded of what Chris Rock said about how a certain subset of black people brags about things they’re supposed to be doing, as in “I take care of my kids.” Fortunately, Barack Obama isn’t outright bragging “We make diplomatic overtures to other countries,” but that’s really what he’s being rewarded for.

Glenn Beck:

Of all things, the Nobel Peace Prize should be turned down by Barack Obama and given — you ready for this, oh this one’s going to make headlines — should be give to the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project. … Because of the arrogance of the progressives that thought no one would stand in their way. That he would be able to accomplish everything. Two weeks into his presidency, they nominated him for it and said, “oh this is going to be a slam dunk.” Because of the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project people that stood in his way and stopped him from accomplishing the things that he thought, “please, I’m the Messiah, I’ll be able to accomplish that.”

Liz Cheney:

Well, I think what the committee believes is they’d like to live in a world in which America is not dominant. And I think if you look at the language of the citation, you can see that they talk about, you know, President Obama ruling in a way that makes sense to the majority of the people of the world. You know, Americans don’t elect a president to do that. We elect a president to defend our national interests. And so I think that, you know, they may believe that President Obama also doesn’t agree with American dominance, and they may have been trying to affirm that belief with the prize. I think, unfortunately, they may be right, and I think it’s a concern.


  1. Michael Smith on October 9th, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said as much. “Some people say, and I understand it, isn’t it premature? Too early?” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Well, I’d say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now. It is now that we have the opportunity to respond — all of us.”

  2. Mario Villalobos on October 9th, 2009 at 11:56 am
  3. Daryl Scroggins on October 9th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    As I suspected he would, Glenn Beck brought the whole thing back to the Messiah code, speaking to the anti christ watchers who, of course, have no problem with rooting for the destruction of the world since it is destined to be “made new” with–guess who–Glenn Beck, and maybe Chuck Noris for backup–riding Shetland ponies right beside the Big Guy on the white horse. Give the Peace Prize to the Hulk, for all the good he has done while being green.

  4. Coop on October 9th, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I suppose we can be thankful that many on the “Right” have no qualms about exposing the size of their warehouse of sour grapes.

  5. Dave Vogt on October 9th, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    of course search engines are flooded for the term right now, does anyone know the background of Rush’s “THE MAN OF PEACE” ? I wouldn’t be surprised to know that Beck isn’t the only one making in references.

  6. Lucy Foley on October 10th, 2009 at 7:09 am

    I put in those quotes from my friend Dan Killian, in New York. His post was wickedly fun, taking the best route by taking the piss. Reading over it now, I hope the quotes I selected do not come across without the humour at the heart of them, and his post.