Being on the west coast sometimes means you react to news stories a little behind the curve and since others had already posted I thought I’d wait a bit to gather my own thoughts on this issue.
I think most people who read my posts know that I did not vote for the President last November and while I agree with him on some subjects I have also expressed my dismay over the growing deficit and other policies that I think could be harmful to the country. At the same time I’ve expressed the view that I think he is a good man who wants to do the best he can for the country.
I guess you’d call me a generally respectful sometimes critic.
So when looking to this award a couple of thoughts come to mind. Certainly as an American I am going to be proud of any other American who wins a Nobel Prize, whether it be a President winning the Peace Prize or a doctor winning the prize for Medicine.
But if they awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine to someone who had just started doing research that might someday lead to a cure for a disease, I would be confused as to why they got the award now. The same views apply in this situation, where the President has been in office for less than a year (and who was nominated 11 days after taking office).
The statement released with the award recognizes that it is being made more for the inspiration than for the actual, but is this really appropriate ? The prize is the Nobel Prize for Peace, not the Nobel Prize for Inspiration and Good Intent.
Indeed one of the areas where I have been critical of the President is that he has not yet moved to withdraw our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. It seems therefore doubly odd that he gets the prize while we are still at war. Taking the Prize for Medicine analogy again it would be like the doctor who hoped to cure the disease in the future had failed to stop policies that caused the disease. Obviously in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan I recognize that these things take time, but it would then seem logical that the Peace Prize could wait until a future date.
Some comparisons have been made between this award and the award of the Prize to Martin Luther in 1964. But when King won the award he had already spent a decade or more as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and we had seen some real concrete accomplishments. Certainly part of the award was for his inspirational impact but it was also recognizing all the real accomplishments.
Looking at the reaction in the blogosphere it seems that even some on the left are a bit confused by this award, with many encouraging Obama to politely decline the award as premature. Kudos to those on the left who, while supportive of Obama, recognize that some things are just not quite right.
Sadly some of the other reactions are too typical, with many right leaning bloggers using it as an excuse for a partisan attack on Obama while some on the harder left use it as a way to attack anyone who dares to question Obama.
In some ways the situation almost reminds me of how you feel when you win a game or get an award in high school because your best friend was on the awards committee or because the other team was missing their best player. You are proud of winning but still have that feeling that maybe you didn’t really earn the win.
Again, as an American there is always for me going to be pride in the award of a Nobel Prize to any of my fellow citizens, even if I may not support their political agenda. But I’d be a lot prouder of the award if I did not have the feeling that this award wasn’t really earned.