Nobel Prize: Sweeps Week Edition | Bleader

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Prize: Sweeps Week Edition

Posted By on 10.09.09 at 12:34 PM

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I was half, or more like a quarter, awake this morning when my wife told me that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize - or, as Avedon caustically puts it, "I was gonna refer to it as the Henry Kissinger Peace Prize, but I guess that would be in poor taste, eh?"

I was having really weird dreams all night anyway, so I didn't believe it was real until I checked the news. I wasn't the only person surprised:

Glenn Greenwald: "I had the same immediate reaction which I'm certain many others had: this was some kind of bizarre Onion gag that got accidentally transposed onto the wrong website, that it was just some sort of strange joke someone was playing."

Ben Dueholm: "Frankly, I don't know what the prize committee was thinking. The 'Nobel Prize for Not Being George Bush' theory seems too crude.... It is at least as plausible to me that the award was meant to apply a high-minded kind of pressure on Obama's future policy moves. 'Nobel Peace Laureate escalates Afghanistan Conflict' or 'Peace Winner Obama Retreats from Israeli-Palestinian Talks' doesn't ring pleasantly in most non-right-wing ears."

Steve Rhodes: "I'm stunned by the Nobel Prize news too."

Digby: "I guess this Nobel Peace Prize is more about intentions than accomplishments...."

Josh Marshall: "This is an odd award."

Tristero: "I know, I know, Obama won the Nobel and all you wanna do is talk about fucking Nutella? Sure, why not? What's there to say about the Nobel? He deserves it? Of course, he does. He doesn't deserve it? Of course, he doesn't. The award is driving the lunatics into apoplectic fits? Yes, that's very good to hear. That about covers it, as far as I can tell. Now, let's talk Nutella!"

John Cole: "Not sure why he was given it, other than as a repudiation of the Bush way of doing things, but man I am enjoying the freak-out from the usual suspects."

In other words, the reaction in trusted corners of the left side of the blogosphere is: huh.

Things I think:

1. It's a prize. Sometimes prizes go to people who unquestionably deserve it, and sometimes they go to people who really don't.

2. His work in the Senate on nonproliferation with Richard Lugar is nothing to sneeze at, and he's trying to do in Iran what Bush didn't do in Iraq, with success.

3. I'd feel a lot better about the awarding of the prize if America was ceasing extraordinary rendition (oh, but with oversight - well, then) or the Bush administration's extralegal detention system.

4. My guess is that on some level, there's a "don't fuck this up" message, cf. Ben's formulation, "Nobel Peace Laureate escalates Afghanistan Conflict." So when Obama says "the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes," I hope he has a good sense of what those are.

5. For all the bitching already coming from his opponents, I think John McCain did a fine job of splitting the difference between "classy" and "realpolitik": "I think part of their decision-making was expectations. And I’m sure the president understands that he now has even more to live up to." That McCain's quote sound a lot like what many liberals are saying is not trivial.

6. I know this is tempting given certain rhetoric leveled at Democrats in recent history: "The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists — the Taliban and Hamas this morning — in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize." But it's really, really not okay, for the reasons Greenwald notes in the link above ("Karl Rove should be proud").

7. Via Ben, what the high-minded National Review thought of MLK's Nobel.

8. RedEye columnist Stephen Markley: your opinion on this isn't valid.

9. Dennis Byrne is awesome: "On that basis, I also would include former President Ronald Reagan, who managed to reduce the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons more than any other president--but with the Nobel's left-leaning bias, there's no chance of that every happening." Don't forget freeing hostages and supporting the Contras, as well as the liberation of Grenada.

10. Marcy Wheeler: "This is, as much as anything else, a carrot designed to keep the US on its more constructive path internationally." Chicago pols are learning a lot about clout these days.

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