Nobel Peace Prize Jumps the Shark
One could argue that having Yassar Arafat awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was the true “Jump the Shark” moment for the Nobel Peace Prize…or even that Al Gore winning for a Power Point presentation on Global
Warming Climate Change. But at least Arafat had been involved in something–no matter how disingenuously–that looked like a peace process and Gore had been around for a while doing his shtick (and I realize these are extremely low bars to hurdle that I’ve set up!). But now the Nobel Committee has awarded the Peace Prize to a President who has done….nothing (heck, they nominated him 10 days after he’d been inaugurated). Hope indeed. As the TimesOnline editorializes:
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.
Mickey Kaus suggests the President should politely decline:
Turn it down! Politely decline. Say he’s honored but he hasn’t had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. Result: He gets at least the same amount of glory–and helps solve his narcissism problem and his Fred Armisen (‘What’s he done?’) problem, demonstrating that he’s uncomfortable with his reputation as a man overcelebrated for his potential long before he’s started to realize it. … Plus he doesn’t have to waste time, during a fairly crucial period, working on yet another grand speech. … And the downside is … what? That the Nobel Committee feels dissed? … P.S.: It’s not as if Congress is going to think, well, he’s won the Nobel Peace Prize so let’s pass health care reform. But the possibility for a Nobel backlash seems non-farfetched.
Worth considering because, if some of the statements around the local water cooler are any indication, the backlash has begun. Plus, by declining the award, Obama would show the world that he, like most Americans, still believes that accolades should be earned for actions completed, not promised.
ADDENDUM: This is the best pro-“Obama wins the Nobel Prize” reaction I’ve read so far:
“Obama won? Really? Wow,” said David Hassan, 43, of Pine Brook, New Jersey. “He deserves it I guess, he’s the president. He’s a smart guy and I guess he’s into peace.”
ADDENDUM II: President Obama will accept the prize. He’s also being very careful:
“I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee,” Obama said Friday. “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of many of the transformative leaders who have received this prize.”
Obama downplayed his own role in having one the prize, asserting it as more of “an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”
In that light, the president said he would accept the prize.
“I will accept this award as a call to action; a call for all nations to confront the common actions of the 21st century,” he said.