Should Obama Turn Down the Nobel Peace Prize?

A small but vocal and bipartisan contingent thinks so

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President Obama, nine months into his presidency, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee in Norway says it awarded it to Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." The award comes as a shock; past recipients, such as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama, have often had long careers of dramatic international involvement. Obama's award, then, is seen as more for his promise of hope and change than a specific record of accomplishments. Reaction in the U.S. has been swift and sharp, with many liberals celebratory and conservatives dour. But there exists a small but vocal -- and bipartisan -- contingent saying that Obama should turn down the Nobel Peace Prize. Update: Obama has accepted.

  • Turn The Nobel Down Some of the most vocal calls for Obama to refuse to prize are coming from the left, as Marc Ambinder points out when he predicts that this will become the "conventional wisdom" for Democrats. The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg: "It might be smart for Obama to turn this prize down, at least until he achieves peace somewhere. Or trade for Olympics." Jon Henke: "So far, the Right, Left and Media all seem to agree that the Nobel Peace Prize committee just beclowned itself."
  • The Liberal Case for Declining The American Prospect's Adam Serwer leads. "Normally you do have to do something to win this prize. Obama is not in the same league as mandela or rabin. No joke obama should turn the nobel peace prize down until he's finished with his two wars. To be clear, this is embarrassing for the committee, not the recipient. I'm all for poking fun at the anger over this, but there are lots of mommies and daddies in [Afghanistan]/Iraq who would disagree [with] Nobel [committee]. Because no one should have to ask why you won the Nobel peace prize."
  • The Conservative Case for Declining Slate Mickey Kaus leads. "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" he writes. "But the possibility for a Nobel backlash seems non-farfetched."
  • Not The First Sitting President, But So Early? Joe Weisenthal notes that other U.S. presidents have won in office. "That a sitting US President would win the prize isn't totally unprecedented. Both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were also winners," he writes. "With less than a year in office, and relatively few accomplishments to speak of (yet) this prize may prove to be pretty awkward for the President, as he's constantly had to fight the image of all-hype-little-substance."
  • The 'Screw Bush' Award Allahpundit wonders whether the Nobel committee is playing politics. "This makes three times, incidentally, in just seven years that the committee's turned the Peace Prize into a 'f*** Bush' award by bestowing it on a liberal American Democrat. The Goracle got it in 2007 and Carter received it in 2002, making today's announcement yet one more reason to consider The One his presidential heir," he writes. "Exit question: There was no one more deserving? Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe's nemesis in Zimbabwe? Iranian protesters? Hello?"
  • Arabs Not So Thrilled Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch anecdotally reports the Arab reaction. "Based on conversations in Amman there's not going to be much Arab enthusiasm for Obama peace prize," he tweets. "Jordanians are very, very pessimistic about peace process in case you were wondering."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.