Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize. What Now?


Will it matter at home? The stunning news that Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize is bound to enhance his global reputation, but will it give him more juice domestically? I don't claim to know the answer but a few thoughts:

It Can't Hurt.
By the end of the day, I'm sure Limbaugh and Hannity and the right chorus will have made fun of Obama for the win, cited it as proof of his European Socialist tendencies. But are many Americans going to feel offended that he's in the company of Teddy Roosevelt, who won for negotiating the end to the Sino-Russian conflict in 1905? Would any American feel embarrassed? Not really. By the way, doesn't this guarantee the president's third trip to Scandinavia, and a redemptive one? He went for the humiliating experience of lobbying for Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. I bet he goes back for the big climate summit in Copenhagen. Now he has to go and accept the prize. Kind of puts the Chicago episode in perspective.

It Gives Him Room on Afghanistan. I think it gives him more of a he-knows-what-he's-doing cred. At some level I think it gives him the political space to sell whatever he comes up with on Afghanistan. If he chooses to revamp the U.S. strategy there to make it more of an anti-Al Qaeda mission and to do more to reach out to elements of the Taliban, that's going to be controversial, but something like this gives him the space to say, tacitly: "The world respects what I do. I can move mountains. Trust me."

Bill Clinton is So Pissed. After everything Clinton did to promote peace in Ireland, the Balkans and especially the Middle East. After his global initiative to save lives, can he not be kicking himself this morning? Obama wins less than a year into his presidency with no major peace agreement under his belt but just gauzy applause for contributing to global good will. Nick Kristof thought it an odd choice. I bet Clinton, um, feels the same way. And since they're unlikely to give it to another American anytime soon, let alone another American president, the odds of Clinton ever getting the Nobel just got a lot dimmer. Forget about Hillary.

Where's His Oscar? Obama's won a Grammy, now this. Where's his Oscar? Seriously, it's such a capstone to one's career,  you have to wonder what he could do on the global stage that would top this. I suppose a real Mideast peace agreement, capturing Bin Laden, or a huge nuclear arms deal would be of greater significance and would top this. But at the moment it's hard to imagine anything that would enhance his prestige abroad more than this.

 More later.

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Matthew Cooper is a managing editor (White House) for National Journal.

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