When Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, I began to have doubts about the folks in charge of that award. While Gore was tireless in promoting his agenda and made significant sums of money (presumably he is now tired and rich enough to stay quiet), it was not clear to me that he had made any meaningful contributions to peace. After all, he was talking about global warming, which does not seem to fall under the heading of peace. To avoid any needlessly hateful commentary, I am worried about climate issues and I am generally for peace.
I found out this morning that Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I was a bit surprised by this. After all, the nominations for the award closed about 12 days after he took office and he has only been in office a few months even now. While he has clearly changed how America handles diplomacy and he has obviously spoken about peace, he really does not have any meaningful achievements at this point. This is not to say that he has not made progress-it is just that I really cannot point to anything he has done and say “lo, this has brought peace.”
To use an analogy, awarding him this prize is like awarding someone the gold medal at mile six of the Olympic marathon. Sure, it is impressive that the person is there, leading the pack at the sixth mile. But, the race is far from over and there are still 20.2 miles to go. Likewise, Obama is off to a great start, but he is still working towards achievements rather than actually achieving them.
Some folks at CNN noted that the award might be because the folks in charge of the award expect him to do great things based on what he has done so far. Going back to the marathon analogy, you don’t get the gold medal because people think you will win. You get it when you win.
Interestingly, some folks on the right claim that “this will backfire on them for a while” and that it is “a gift to the right.” Naturally, I suspect this sort of claim is just wishful thinking on the part of the right. After all, winning the prize will almost certainly help his standing in the world. Also, this sort of comment is what I expected to hear. After seeing those folks cheer at Chicago losing the Olympics, I realized that there are conservatives who seem committed beyond reason to being against Obama in all things.
Of course, I am willing to consider that the claim might have some truth. After all, if people think the award is undeserved, then they will most likely think a bit less of Obama for accepting it. After all, if someone tried to hand me a first place trophy six miles into a marathon and I accepted it, my fellow runners would look at me with scorn (and rightfully so).
Folks on the right who are suspicious of foreigners and foreign influence will also see this award as a bad thing. They will probably take it as a sign that Obama is somehow “in” with those foreign folks and this will certainly not enhance their view of him. Of course, these folks are already against him, so I don’t see this as being much of a gift for the right, unless it somehow pushes some folks off the fence towards the right side.
Folks who are very pro-Obama will, of course, see this award as a great thing and no doubt take it as evidence that the world sees the greatness they see. Folks who are for him but lack such devotion will probably not be moved much either way.
My final thought is that while it is great that the President has won the Nobel Peace Prize, I really wish he had actually earned it. I do think that he will, eventually-but the race is not yet run. As any runner will tell you, the award ceremony is after the race, not during it.