Friday, October 9, 2009

Swift and Loud

As expected, the reaction to President Barack Obama winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has been swift and loud. A lot of people on both sides are wondering why the Nobel Committee awarded it to the president after only nine months in office and with not a lot to show for actually achieving peace. (You can read the award notice here.) A lot are following the meme that it is because he’s Not Bush, and of course the right wing is saying, as predicted, that the peace prize is meaningless… which makes you wonder why they’re making such a big deal about it. If it’s meaningless, why do they care?

It’s interesting to note that two of the harshest comments about the award come from the Taliban and the Republican National Committee. I’d expect that from the Taliban, who think the idea of a peace prize is for someone who kills the most infidels, but I’d expect the RNC to be a little more gracious. Regardless of what you may think of the winner, the Nobel Prizes have been a significant global institution for over 100 years; would it hurt to show a little class and congratulate the president? Last week the righties made a joyful noise when Chicago — and America — lost the bid for the 2016 Olympics, and now they’re having tantrums over the Nobel Prize. It’s like they really don’t care what image they put out to the rest of the world; all they care about is engaging in a little classless warfare by putting down President Obama. (Brian Williams of NBC, wrapping up the coverage of the president’s Rose Garden statement, called the award “bizarre.” Huh; what’s bizarre is that editorial comment.)

Frankly, I’m like a lot of people who are both surprised and more than a bit curious about the selection, but I’m also not privy to the criterion the committee has for making their selection, and I doubt it’s a popularity contest. Apparently the award is not based solely on what a person has accomplished; it could be seen as a source of encouragement to live up to the goals and aspirations.

All in all, it’s a good thing for everybody, and it beats winning on Dancing with the Stars.