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Obama's Nobel Peace Prize becoming a political lead weight

Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is looking less and less like a shiny trophy for his mantel and more like a political lead anchor.

By / October 17, 2009



President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is looking less and less like a shiny trophy for his mantel and more like a political lead anchor.

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Far from fading from public discussion, Obama’s surprise Nobel win just keeps generating comment, derision, and gratuitous advice about what he can do with it. At the very least, it’s become a grinding distraction at a time when he’s trying to fix things like healthcare and Afghanistan.

And now it’s being reported that the five Norwegians who gave him the award argued among themselves over the Obama pick.

True, there are those who laud Obama’s award.

At Truthdig, Joe Conason writes: “He kicked out the neoconservative faction, led by former Vice President Dick Cheney, that prefers armed confrontation to diplomacy -- and the world applauded in relief, along with the majority of Americans.”

Actually, Cheney is back to hector Obama. That would be Liz Cheney, the former vice president’s daughter. She’s just formed a group called “Keep America Safe.” Their target is Obama’s “radical” foreign policies, reports Politico.

But even more friendly commentators worry that Obama’s Nobel “threatens to become a central metaphor of Barack Obama's turbocharged political career,” as Time’s Joe Klein put it.

“He seems fated to be feted for who he is not (George W. Bush) and who he might turn out to be, but not for things he has actually done. This is dangerous stuff, politically. It almost guarantees disappointment,” Klein writes.

Other analyses are more sharply-pointed, some bordering on the vicious.

Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, says the award reflects an age of “political decadence” -- especially in what former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld liked to call “old Europe.”

“The unanswered question at the center of this odd Nobel is whether Barack Obama admires Old Europe for the same reasons it admires him,” Henninger writes. “When it was a vibrant garden of ideas, Europe gave the world more good things than one can count. Then it discovered the pleasures of the welfare state.”

Ouch. Aid and comfort to the “Obama’s a socialist” crowd.

So if Obama was given the Nobel mainly for not being George W. Bush, as many commentators have concluded, what might he actually do to deserve it as he proceeds through his term as president?

At the Atlantic Wire, Heather Horn surveys the free-advice scene to take note of “5 ways Obama can ‘earn’ his Nobel Peace Prize.

Here at the Monitor, columnist and former editor John Hughes (who’s also a former Republican administration official) lists all the problems -- from Social Security to global warming to Iran and North Korea -- that Obama faces, suggesting that it’s too soon to count achievements.

“Although he seems to be everywhere, popping up daily on television -- on five different networks in separate interviews in one day recently -- his elegant phraseology and soaring words of hope leave behind a formidable list of problems to be solved,” Hughes writes.

Obama probably wouldn’t disagree.

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