Barack Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize: What Was I Thinking?

October 09, 2009 by barbara

barbara writes

Well, hot damn and hallelujah! Woke up this morning to the news that Barack Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Thought, “Wow, that’s a really excellent thing!” High-fived myself. Jaunty-walked, whistling all the way, to the kitchen to fetch a cup of fresh-brewed java.

Brought the coffee to my office, where I began reading online news and mostly lefty blogs, eager to join the celebration that was no doubt in full swing.

Not so fast, Sunshine.

“I thought the story was from The Onion,” I read.

“Too soon for this,” I read.

“He hasn’t done enough,” I read.

“He doesn’t deserve this. There’s war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” I read.

“Pretty words, no substance,” I read.

“The Nobel Committee must have an affirmative action quota,” I read.


My head crashed onto the keyboard and a little moan escaped my lips. OMG. I guess I was wrong. It’s not a good thing, the President of the United States receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I have allowed myself to be sucked in by my own jejeune thinking, my own sophomoric opinion, my own gut-felt reaction rather than that of perpetual Obama detractors on the fringes (right and left), who seem to be saying:

“Do not for one minute acknowledge or celebrate that this is a visible sign that the global community has paused in its arms crossed, backs-to-the-U.S., mad as hell at us mode.”

“Do not give light to the possibility that Obama is systematically rebuilding goodwill and trust squandered by Bush/Cheney.”

“Do not for one minute believe that civility and the politics of engagement are effective. It’s all a smoke screen for . . . well, we don’t know exactly, but it’s got Obama writ large all over it. Hunh.”

Okay, okay. It’s not good at all, then, this Nobel thingie. What was I thinking?! Must be the coffee. Yeah, that's it. The coffee.

(Cross-posted at firedoglake,

(NOTE: Because of an uptick in obnoxious spam, comments are now being moderated. Patience, please!)

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Peggy (not verified) | October 9, 2009 - 9:51pm

I'm very proud and happy for will be a reminder of the hopes and expectations our nation must live up to.


barbara | October 9, 2009 - 10:12pm

Shhhh. Me, too. Don't blow my cover or the radicals will get me!


Jean Morris Trumbauer (not verified) | October 9, 2009 - 10:28pm

Great blog, Barb. Give em hell! I am so sick of the extreme right (which seems to include most Republicans these days) as well as the extreme left (who seem to have forgotten that one of the basic definitions of "politics" is "The Art of the Possible"). Some put their expectations so high that no person on earth could meet them and others seem to want nothing better than Obama's downfall - as soon as possible.

What has happened to "The Common Good?" "Civility"? True "Pariotism" or love of our human brothers and sisters? It is a disgrace.

Tonite on Almanac I heard a Republican orate to the effect that Obama does not deserve a Peace Prize because he is executing two wars. No really - this from a Republican who wants more war. Really. The Republican commentator is laughable.

I am a long-time pacifist so no knocking from the far left. I think war is anti-human, anti-earth, and anti-creatures. But let's give Obama his due - he is not perfect nor will we ever see a perfect president. But he is a damn better leader than the most recent Republican and several previous Dems. Tell the President what you think about Afghanistan - but if we all think we are such peace-makers, let's at least start by acting with respect and civility and applaud and reward leadership behavior which is moving toward a new way of cooperation and expanding voices in the conversation.

Jean Trumbauer


barbara | October 9, 2009 - 10:40pm

Amen, sister, amen. I am becoming a pariah on some lefty blogs because I am finally calling them out on their crap. Ironically, many lefties are as acerbic and irrational as some of the radical right. They seem to have joined hands at the far ends of the continuum, making a weird circle.

There is a cadre of what I call "faux erudite Dems" who are absolutely determined to bring Obama down, at least a peg or two, if not totally. And my question about that is, "To what end?" Never mind the "why?" or the "WTF???" To what end???

The fact that one of the hallmarks of current U.S. society is instant gratification is not helping matters. Obama has loaded up his plate and his own party is daring him to fail at sorting it all out. Taunting. Belittling. Whining. Unleashing slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Ick. Just . . . ick.


Anonymous (not verified) | October 9, 2009 - 11:57pm

Well I walked around the kitchen here in Michigan, the only room with heat, sort of, if I light a fire, with the same jaunty step. I mean, what could be better than a Nobel for the president of the US of A? Better than the Olympics, a confirmation that talking to our enemies about peace beats threatening them with war, what a pat on the back for Obama's message, what encouragement, what a reversal of the Bush years, etc.
And then the pelting of rotten tomatoes began from both sides. Could we not bask in this for five minutes before parsing and it declaring it premature or unearned or misguided or a mockery of everything the Nobel once stood for? Nope.
Was it the repugnant Phil Gramm who said America was a nation of whiners? Well, he may have been dead wrong on deregulating the banking industry, but he kind of got that one right. Of course he meant people who lose their homes in a flood or an uninsured child to illness, those self-pitying kind of whiners, not those who lose an election.
But wait, Barb's right. The fringe left is every bit as angry and ugly as the tea-baggers and birthers. I'm not sure Americans deserve Barack Obama.
Well, we'll bobble along in the middle like corks, I suppose, jostled from both sides, just trying to keep afloat until one by one we disappear over the lip of the eternal falls. And if this sort of nastiness doesn't let up, which it did for about 32 seconds this morning, going over the falls looks more appealing all the time.


lilalia (not verified) | October 10, 2009 - 2:19am

I remember when Mr. Obama came to Berlin to speak and all the press and competition was trying to belittle the interest of the audience (he's just a rock star) and the inspiration that Mr. Obama set in the hearts of the 100,000 people or so with his life story and his proceeding speech. The speech was all about being a global citizen and speaking up and starting forth... and, even though he was just a presidential candidate and not (yet) president, many people in Germany at least, were inspired by his words. And now, what, a year later, Mr. Obama accepts his Nobel Prize in humbleness and knowing that it is not for deeds done, but as statement of where we all have to go. That in itself is a fine and noble statement, don't you think?


barbara | October 10, 2009 - 9:51am

I remember that, too. And yes, I do think so, too. And having read the forced statement by members of the Nobel Committee, that seems to be precisely what they were taking into account. It has been light years since there has been a different tone, a different focus, a different (and, dare I say it, hopeful).

There was a time when I'd have blamed all this negative horse-pucky on the right. And lord knows, they're littering the streets and the airwaves with it. But what really burns is our own people -- those who call themselves progressives -- heaping on coals and pontificating from high atop their, ummm, keyboards. (How's THAT for mixing metaphors?!)


barbara | October 10, 2009 - 9:45am

I know who you are, Anonymous (ha!) and I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn you in to the Snarly Neoprogressives of Today Society (SNOTS).

Did you see the Strib today? Its what appears to be begrudging use of its precious space to give faint praise to Obama.

"Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo


barbara | October 10, 2009 - 9:41am

Well, it’s 24 hours later. And I still need to use the back door to register my pride in my country, as manifested by the best hopes and efforts of our president. It seems so strange and no small amount sad that there is no place in progressive land to celebrate this without smack-down. And it’s the smack-down that’s hard to digest. Differences of opinion are the hallmark of this nation. But the mean-spirited smack-downs (not so much of me, you, us, but of, oh, pretty much everything lately) are hard for me to understand.

Disclaimer: Oh, yes, barbara can snark with the best of them. But it occurs to me I might need to consider reining that in. We are becoming the very thing we abhor.

The Strib had a roughly one-third page above the fold article about the Nobel with a smallish photo of Obama. What is the matter with us? Really. What is the matter with us? Just askin’.


Poet (not verified) | October 12, 2009 - 8:48am

When I heard the news, I laughed. Not sarcasticly or derisively, just plain laughed at the irony of it all.

I thought back on Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter, George Marshall, Aung San Su Kyi, Nelson Mandela, and Albert Schweitzer all of whose peace prizes have now been devalued. I remembered that in 1948, 55, 56, 66, 67, and 72, there were no peace prizes awarded because no suitable recipeints could be found.

I was on the verge of being angry, derisive, and scathing all at the same time when I heard the President's statement that he believed that he in no way was worthy of such an honor and then changed my mind about him. Is there a Nobel prize for telling the truth?