The last time an American won the Nobel Peace Prize, two years ago, I posted an item that I think has more relevance now. That winner was of course Al Gore. The remarks began as follows:

"I am old enough... well, there are many ways to end that sentence, but for now: I am old enough to remember, from my school years, the disdainful reaction in my home town to the news that Martin Luther King had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

"The reaction was, of course, racial at its root. This was a majority-white, minority-Hispanic small town with very few black residents, which went for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson in the presidential election that same fall. [And narrowly went for McCain over Obama last year, while California as a whole went strongly for Obama.]

"But the stated form of the objection concerned not King's race but his obnoxiousness as a man. He was a windbag. He was pompous and self-dramatizing, He was holier than thou. Plus, he had started getting involved where he didn't belong, in raising questions about the Vietnam War. Through the rest of Martin Luther King's life, the father of my best home-town friend always went out of his way to refer sneeringly to "Martin Luther Nobel."

"As is the case now with some similar complaints about Al Gore, the criticisms weren't about nothing...." [continues here]

The complaint about Obama will of course be that he has not yet "earned" the prize, and of course that criticism isn't about nothing. But there's something more at work too. More to come in this space too, about Obama's remarks, by this evening. Mainly noting this previous item in a parallel situation. It also included this disclaimer:

"There are a few choices that look fishy in retrospect. (Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho in 1973??? Arafat as co-winner with Peres and Rabin in 1994?) But the great majority stand up very well. Desmond Tutu, and then Mandela and deKlerk. Albert Schweitzer. George C. Marshall. Lech Walesa, Willy Brandt, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi. The Norwegian Nobel Institute has earned the benefit of the doubt for choosing people whose achievements will stand up over time."