Obama Nobel Peace Prize for what?

Editorialists around the country weigh in on Obama’s surprise Nobel Peace Prize. Some offer suggestions on who should have gotten the award. Others see liberal politics at play - a way to jab at George W. Bush.

Torbjorn Gronning/AP
Chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland, announces that the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 will be awarded to U.S. President Barack Obama.

The morning-after reaction to President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize continues to be a massive and collective “Huh?”

Editorial writers and commentators -- like millions of people around the world -- are still scratching their heads, trying to figure out the awarding committee’s rationale, naming those they think might have been more deserving recipients, seeing politics as the motive.

“It’s an odd Nobel Peace Prize that almost makes you embarrassed for the honoree,” says the Washington Post.

“In offering this latest Euro-celebration of the 2008 election, the Norwegian committee has … demonstrated a certain cluelessness about America. If anything animates Mr. Obama's critics in this country, it is the impression that he is the focus of a global cult of personality. This prize, at this time, only feeds that impression, and thus does him no favors politically.”

The Los Angeles Times echoes the feeling, noting that “Excessive praise can be unwelcome and embarrassing.”

“Obama managed to be both abashed and appreciative in his response, but no amount of self-effacing spin can obscure the oddity of this award.”

Like others, the LA Times noted that “It's hard to escape the impression that Obama was honored because he isn't George W. Bush.”

“Maybe he really is The One,” tweaks the Wall Street Journal.

“Our own reaction is bemusement at the Norwegian decision to offer what amounts to the world's first futures prize in diplomacy, with the Nobel Committee anticipating the heroic concessions that it believes Mr. Obama will make to secure treaties that will produce a new era of global serenity…. We all have at least three more years to learn if Mr. Obama will fulfill the audacity of hope that the Nobel Committee has put on him to bow to the values of the world's ‘majority’. ”

The Boston Globe takes a more positive tack on Obama’s Nobel: “Whether or not the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Obama prematurely, global awareness of the award can translate into a valuable American asset.”

“Hard-headed leaders in Tehran, Moscow, or Pyongyang will not suddenly do Obama’s bidding simply because he has been praised by a committee of dignitaries in Oslo. But this Peace Prize carries a message for those leaders and their publics. It says that instead of being outside an international consensus, the United States today stands at the center of that consensus. The announcement from Oslo has enhanced American soft power.”

The Dallas Morning News picks up on the “anti-Bush” theme.

“Though not being George W. Bush may cause impressionable Norwegians to flush with ardor, it is not an actual Nobel-worthy accomplishment. By awarding this celebrated prize to a president who hasn't had the time to achieve anything substantial on the world stage, the Nobel committee has demeaned the award's value, and put Obama in a difficult position…. As even skeptical liberal commentators said yesterday, this prize goes a long way toward bolstering the case that the adulation the president receives is more hype than reality.”

One of the more positive readings of Obama’s award comes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which says critics “sound like the Kanye West of Nobel Prizes.”

“Despite the predictable squawking, the Nobel Committee's decision to award the peace prize Friday to President Barack Obama is an honor in which the entire country ought to take pride.
No, nine months into his presidency, world peace has not broken out. But he has carefully created a climate in which negotiation, diplomacy and respect have supplanted bluster and obstinacy on the world stage.”

Here’s how The Christian Science Monitor editorialized on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

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