Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is Deserved

by Andy Ostroy

Republicans apparently have one more thing to hate about President Barack Obama now that he has won the Nobel Peace Prize, beating out 200 other candidates for addressing the threat of global warming; for trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons; and for attempting to achieve a global peace.

In Oslo, Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjørn Jagland said "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do."

Right-wingers are unsurprisingly outraged, calling Obama's award a travesty, claiming the president hasn't yet "accomplished" anything that would merit such an honor. As the news broke Friday, conservative pundits were in high-gear robotically regurgitating the primary talking point that Obama won the award simply for not being George W. Bush.

But let's get something straight here: this is a very proud day for America. For all Americans. After eight embarrassing, unrepentant years of reckless cowboy arrogance marred by war, war crimes and human rights abuses, Obama's Nobel Prize symbolizes the beginning of the Unites States' return to respectability and perhaps even greatness someday. A time when the world is looking to America, and its president, for leadership. This isn't about Bush. It's about Obama and what he represents on the world's stage.

The notion that Obama's prize is undeserved is absurd and an insult to every American. First of all, who said the Nobel Committee's criteria for winning requires candidates to be "accomplished" U.S. presidents? Or that they even be a U.S. president, for that matter? So the fact that Obama was selected so soon after his inauguration is totally irrelevant. This honor isn't about what he's done since January. To the contrary, it's about how this relatively unknown Midwestern politician with humble beginnings became the first black president of the United States by inspiring a nation through a message of peace, hope, and aspiration...and thus shifted the political and racial winds in this country and throughout the world. The award is a recognition of Obama's vision for a new, harmonious planet, and how he's serving as a catalyst for that change. To say he's won because he's not Bush is grossly oversimplifying the significance of the prize. Rather, he's undoing the colossal damage that's been done by Bush. Big difference.

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