This seems to be all anyone wants to talk about. I seem to be one of the few who sees this as a downpayment on a potential transformative period in world history. History alone can judge that, and history hasn't happened yet. Michael Steele:
It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain President Obama won’t be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.
The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists - the Taliban and Hamas this morning - in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize.
Classy. I hate this loony partisanship. Ambers:
[O]ne argument I'm hearing and reading from Democrats and others who are skeptical of the prize: it will turn the volume and enthusiasm level all the way to the extreme end of the dial for conservatives -- overmodulating at 110%; the resulting hyperpolarization will hurt Obama's agenda.
But they turned the volume up to 11 a day after his inauguration! He's already Hitler and Stalin combined to them. And, of course, their derangement has only accelerated their decline as a serious political party. Win-win for Obama. Lindsay Beyerstein:
Of course the Republicans are going to freak out. Our guy wins a Nobel Peace Prize after 9 months in office, primarily for tinkering with the worst excesses of the wars their guy started. That's humiliating. Humiliated Republicans lash out, news at eleven.
I'm as relieved as anybody that the Bushian gunslingers have been given the gate and, as regular readers know, I'm a big fan of patient, rigorous diplomacy--and there's a certain lovely irony to any prize that brings the Taliban and the neoconservative Commentary crowd together in high dudgeon--but let's face it: this prize is premature to the point of ridiculousness. It continues a pattern that holds some peril for Obama: he is celebrated for who he is not, and for who he might potentially be, rather than for what he has actually done. If he doesn't provide results that justify the award, this Nobel will prove a millstone come election time.
No one is above the outrage cycle. We have now, in our culture, synthesized the two worst elements of pre-9/11 and post-9/11 media: the pre-9/11 obsession with meaningless bullshit; and the post-9/11 obsession with filling every story with apocalyptic portent and over the top, tween-girl-at-a-Jonas-brothers-concert hysteria. We still care too much about J-Lo’s dress and the Summer of the Shark. Now, we get around the idea that we are shallow for giving a shit about such things by infusing them with pseudo-political importance and our current national drug of choice, outrage. Everything is an outrage. Everyone is outraged. Every turn of the news cycle gives us a new opportunity to pound the table.
My thoughts? I just don't think it matters much.
One suspects that the Nobel committee may have been trying to reinvigorate their own public image by choosing someone "relevant", rather than someone like Thich Quang Do, the 80-year-old Vietnamese dissident monk. Or they may have wanted to lend Mr Obama some extra mojo for his upcoming pushes on climate change in the Senate and then in Copenhagen. But one fears the effect may be the opposite, on both counts. Every Facebook response I've seen so far has been a variation on the theme of "huh?" Maybe he can re-gift it somehow.
Among many other things, this selection illustrates the United States' way-too-oversized role in the world's imagination. And it shows how peoplealmost touchinglyremain suckers for likeable politicians who replace guys they hated, investing in them a kind of faith mere mortals usually don't merit. As Chili Davis famously (and presciently) said about Dwight Gooden, "He ain't God, man."