Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel Farce (or Oslo Starts Affirmative Action Program)

This morning the Nobel Prize committee stunned the world by announcing that President Obama, whose only notable international accomplishment has been to win the Presidency of the United States, had received the Nobel Peace Prize, an award usually reserved for individuals who have made some sort of outstanding contribution to peace or human rights (Lech Walesa, Gandhi, Theordore Roosevelt, Begin & Sadat, etc.).

Reaction from sensible quarters was quick and harsh:

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace.

The pretext for the prize was Mr Obama’s decision to “strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples”. Many people will point out that, while the President has indeed promised to “reset” relations with Russia and offer a fresh start to relations with the Muslim world, there is little so far to show for his fine words.

Democrats and leftists, on the other hand, were equally quick to gush and fall over themselves adoring their acheivement-free hero:

It would be hard to think of a more electrifying and deserved recipient of this year's Nobel Peace prize than President Obama. Obama is the fourth American president to win the Nobel prize. His predecessors are Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter.

Obviously, the award is based on the hope that Obama will achieve real progress in advancing diplomacy rather than confrontation around the globe. To some degree, he already has. American relations with Europe are vastly improved. He is focusing on global warming. Negotiations are underway with Iran. So are nuclear arms reductions talks with Russia. Leading conservatives such as George Shultz are calling for immediately ending sanctions on Cuba and restoring relations with it, as was emphasized at a New American Foundation event on the presidential Sequoia yacht hosted by Steve Clemons in Washington, D.C. last night.

This is what liberals believe merits a Nobel Prize? Other US presidents have enjoyed good relations with Europe. At least four US presidents have engaged in arms reduction talks with Russia. Ronald Reagan actually signed a treaty that eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons (but, naturally, no Nobel for him). Talking with Iran is nice, but we've been talking with North Korea for almost two decades with little to show for it, why expect better from Iran?

President Obama has achieved nothing but raised expectations. The aura of hope that so many see in him exists mostly because he is - dare one say it? - black (or half-black). The color of his skin is the primary reason so many on the left have invested so much in his presidency.

An honorable man would have realized that the Nobel committee's decision had nothing to do with his own acheivements and was a nod to leftwing sentiments and politcal correctness, and promptly declined the award. In deed, in his acceptance remarks this morning, President Obama tacitly admitted that he didn't deserve the award, but he accepted it anyway.

Any why not? As a long time advocate for, and beneficiary of, affirmative action, President Obama had no qualms about accepting something he hadn't earned and didn't deserve. That says a lot about the man, his character, guiding philosophy, and the future course of his administration.

It says nothing good for America.