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October 9, 2009

Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:18 AM * 126 comments

Congratulations are in order. From the Nobel website:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Personally, I think this comes a little early. The last sitting President to win it, Woodrow Wilson, founded the League of Nations. Obama has yet to do anything of that magnitude.

But I reckon it serves as incentive as well as reward, and it gives him leverage in certain circles. It’ll put the wind up the sails of the isolationist branch of American society, of course; expect shrieking commentary.

And I see it’s started. A couple of observations:

  1. It’s really boring to say that it’s the prize for not being George W Bush without actually talking about what that entails. The joke has been retweeted to death already; it probably has its own hashtag.
    People with no commenting history who pitch up here and say that particular really boring thing are going to be treated as drivebys. I’ll append IP addresses to your comments, and everyone is invited to mock your username. (If you comment here regularly, you’re allowed to say it, but be prepared for yawns. If this is not your desired outcome, try being more specific.)
  2. Nomination does not equal award. It is true that nominations closed very early in the Obama presidency. That does not mean that the award was decided then, nor on the basis of what was known at that time.
    I strongly suspect that pointing out the date of nomination is going to be a wingnut marker. It has all the hallmarks: it’s both factually true and entirely misleading, and it is designed to reinforce existing views rather than inform. Anyone who chooses to do so on this thread should do so in full knowledge that it makes you look naïve, slimy, or possibly both.
Comments on Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize:
#1 ::: Daniel Klein ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 05:46 AM:

Well my first thought actually was, "is this a joke?"

Not that I'm not enthused by everything Obama stands for. He has lots of great ideas. But they shouldn't award this thing to someone for having great ideas. It should reward results, no?

And it's way too early for results, just like Abi says. Woodrow Wilson received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1919, when he had been in office for six years.

So I've got to agree with Abi's analysis that there's more going on here than rewarding. Again, those were pretty much my thoughts: maybe they're giving this to him so early to support him, to give him leverage to turn his ideas into reality. Maybe it's the highest kind of moral support: yes, we need a world with as few active nukes lying around as possible, please continue working toward that goal.

Which, of course, raises the question: should they be doing this? And can it even work?

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:03 AM:

Congratulations are definitely in order.

Barack Obama's popularity around the world during the 2008 campaign came from the hope that he would restore the United States to a place of moral leadership. The Nobel Prize, it seems to me, is a signal that he has done so.

I expect there to be shrieking and begrudging from the usual suspects.

#3 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:05 AM:

It has definitely been used as an incentive in the past, the honorees in 1994 were Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin. I assume the goal was to use the prestige of the award to encourage progress in the "peace process".

With luck, this year's award will encourage the US to back down from rattling sabers at Iran. While I'm not happy about recent events in internal Iranian politics, Iran allows the IAEA to inspect, has not been seen to have a military nuke program, and has a policy and tradition of non-aggression — not to mention Khamenei stating that nuclear weapons are "un-Islamic", and issuing a fatwa against them. See The top ten things you didn't know about Iran by Juan Cole in Salon.

#4 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:21 AM:

Personally I find it a bit embarrassing, for both the committee and us, that they're more or less giving him the prize for being Not George Bush.

#5 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:24 AM:

Hoo boy, the wingnuts are going to *freak out* like nobody's business over this... especially since *their* president didn't win!

#6 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:34 AM:

C Wingate@4:

I think you overstate the case. There is a fair amount of difference between Obama and Not GWB. I am not convinced, for instance, that Clinton would have won based on the trajectory she was on in her campaign. And I doubt very much that McCain was heading for the prize. And yet they are both Not GWB.

Besides, didn't Carter get the Not GWB Nobel?

#7 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:58 AM:

Remember that campaign ad that asked who would be answering the phone at 3 AM in the White House? No one guessed who would be making that call....

#8 ::: Ray ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:26 AM:

The closing date for nominations was February 1st. At which point, Obama's contributions to world peace were being not-Bush, and being black.

#9 ::: Russell Coker ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:27 AM:

Can he win two Nobel Peace prizes? He's made an OK start but he hasn't achieved much yet. If he does what he aims to do then he will probably have earned another in ~6 years...

#10 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:27 AM:

He pulled the plug on the missile shield program in Europe, an got Russia to back down, bringing them to the negotiating table with Iran.

I'm annoyed at people who say this is "nothing". It's an important step in anti-proliferation in two countries. Russia has a massive stockpile of nukes and has been increasingly aggressive since Bush kept pissing them off

That said, it is a "you're not Bush" award.

#11 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:30 AM:

Nobel peace prize? Well, he's no Henry Kissinger, that's for sure.

#12 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:33 AM:

Yeah, I don't see what accomplishments Obama can point to as justifying this award. In particular, his approach to handling investigations of our own war crimes doesn't exactly seem like peace prize material thus far. More broadly, he's been in power for nine months, and so far, what he's done has seemed to me to be mostly reasonable enough, a big improvement over the previous bunch in power, but unspectacular.

#13 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:38 AM:

Jasper @10 hits the nail on the head. Ceasing to poke the bear and getting NK and Iran back to the table (by ceasing insane brinksmanship with them) is huge. Actually trying to address climate change.

I'm surprised the Doomsday Clock hasn't been set back yet, honestly.

#14 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:54 AM:

Also, according to the Nobel Committee, they do give the prize in part as an incentive towards future actions in the service of world peace.

#15 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:39 AM:

re 6: Abi, you do Carter a big disservice; he could just as well have been given an award in 1978 as in 2002. I read the committee's press release, and they make it sound as though they are giving him the award for being Not Bush. None of this is a knock on Obama; it just seems to me that they aren't really giving him an award for being him yet, because he just doesn't have much of a track record so far.

I'd also point out that nineteen out of 109 years, there was no prize. (The last time was in 1972.)

#16 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:47 AM:

Congratulations, Mister President. I, too, think it's premature, but that it will eventually be deserved.

Meanwhile, I'm a-gonna keep flogging Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize, since he deserves it at least twice over.

#17 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:51 AM:

Ray @8:
Nominations closed in February, but world + dog tends to get nominated. The pool pf people qualified to nominate is deliberately wide.

The selection happens substantially later. Don't conflate the two.

C Wingate @15:
You're right; I was being unfair to Carter, though I think the timing of his award was pointed.

that they aren't really giving him an award for being *him* yet, because he just doesn't have much of a track record so far.

Agreed. I hope he uses it for good, but that's not the same as having yet earned it.

#18 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:52 AM:

I'm with Josh Jasper, 14,
The end of the press release from the committee spells it out:
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world's leading spokesman.

In other words: "Obama is fulfilling the goal of our organizations entire existence."

I don't think it's accidental that a prize founded on Alfred Nobel's repentance for having developed the WMD of his time, is going to a man who has made substantial progress on taking us back from the brink with the WMD of our time in Russia, North Korea, etc. There isn't anyone in a better position in this world for fixing this stuff** and there won't be a different one for at least another three to seven years, and probably a lot longer. Obama is in a unique position because of the narratives that he's embedded in. We aren't going to get a second crack at this peace thing, not like this, not for a long time.

*to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity [they would know], in the suppression or reduction of standing armies [nukes?], or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses. [check]

**modulo Putin selling all his nukes to Switzerland and retiring to Monte Carlo, Kim Jong Il turning over North Korea to a joint Chinese-Korean protectorate, and Ahmedinejad calling for new elections.

#19 ::: Edgar lo Siento ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:56 AM:

Though, I, uh, can't resist quoting this theory from Balloon Juice: Who’d have expected the Nobel committee to be trolls? It does seem like the perfect way to rickroll the frothy right wing types.

#20 ::: Truthseeker ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:56 AM:

Is this a Joke? What has Mr Obama ever done apart from giving great speeches around the world? My answer is NOTHING. Closing down Guantanamo Bay but, he still cannot work it out and what to do with the prisoners. He is full of great ideas but, that's all. Just ideas. Also, he tries to be friends with anyone and any government, which is not right. People in the streets of Iran were dying in the summer and HE WAS DISTURBED with what he saw- that was it. Then he started negotiating with the brutal government of Iran, after the stolen election, giving them credibility. God!!! Can I ask what is the exact criteria of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for selecting him?? If not being George Bush is enough to get the Nobel Peace Prize, why they don't give it to all of us??

#21 ::: datechguy ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:57 AM:

This prize is the "not being George Bush" award.

And in fairness no US president since the Bush administration has been more not George Bush than President Obama. He has spent his entire life not being George Bush and he is unlikely to become George Bush later in life.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:01 AM:

Two first-time posters turning up in this thread. What are the odds?

#23 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:13 AM:

This is a "not George Bush" award only to the extent that George W. Bush was in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize the way I'm in the running for a Gold Medal in the long jump at the next Olympics.

Personally, I think it's premature unless the incentive thing is taken into account -- but it's not wholly inappropriate. Breaking the logjam with Russia over nuclear disarmament is only part of it -- the START-2 treaty was due to expire and the Russians were making alarming noises about re-arming until Obama cancelled the eastern European ABM sites. He also managed to use the ABM cancelation to get Russia on team for dealing with Iran; the importance of this shouldn't be underestimated. Bush's approach to diplomacy was to world affairs as Florence Foster Jenkins was to music -- and now we've got a competent performer back on the stage, the contrast is all the more marked.

#24 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:15 AM:

Russell @9:

Yes, in theory, a person could win two Nobel Peace Prizes. Thus far, the only repeat Peace Prize winners have been organizations: the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN High Commission on Refugees.

Individuals have won two science prizes—at least one person has won twice in chemistry, and Marie Curie won in both chemistry and physics. Linus Pauling is the only person to have won both a science prize and the peace prize.

The only one that seems to be treated as a body of work/lifetime achievement award is literature.

Yes, I was poking around on yesterday, and they have pages on stuff like multiple winners, oldest and youngest winner of each prize, and multiple prizes in a family. Along with a note that a lot of people think Winston Churchill won the peace prize; his Nobel is in literature, but the award specifically includes his "stirring oratory" as well as his writing.

#25 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:32 AM:

@ # 20 -
Is this a Joke? What has Mr Obama ever done apart from giving great speeches around the world? My answer is NOTHING.

This is because you're uninformed. And frothing at the mouth. Have a hankie. Calm down.

#26 ::: Lowell Gilbert ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:35 AM:

Press speculation ahead of the fact pointed out that no conflicts really came to a peaceful end in the last year (thus making the handicapping more difficult). It's pretty telling that people thought Tsvangirai had a shot at the Prize for joining a "unity" government in Zimbabwe.

#27 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:36 AM:

Put me down in the "incentive" column, although I think it's more of a proscriptive Nobel.

Obama's still trying to figure out how to handle Afghanistan - can you imagine getting a Nobel Peace Prize and then escalating a war shortly thereafter? I bet the "Nobel Peace Prize laureate" will be somewhere in his mind the next time he has to decide the next step for Guantanamo or Bagram (Gitmo III: the sequel to the sequel).

Still, for one day, the Nobel committee has united the left and right of the US in a single "WTF?".

#28 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:38 AM:

Truthseeker @20

It's been a long time since heads of state were actually expected to chop off heads in battle, or design castles. They give speeches. It's the primary work-day task of their position.

So, what has he done, other than his job? Well... pretty much, just the other tasks involved in his job.

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:38 AM:

FungiFromYuggoth #27: Are you sure that you mean "proscriptive"?

#30 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:44 AM:

Fragano @29 - You know, I'm not. I had a few other words in there during edit, including "prescriptive". But I had to pick a word and get on with things.

I suspect the Nobel committee is trying to define Obama as a peacemaker when he hasn't shown a lot of inclination in that direction yet.

#31 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:44 AM:

I think the Nobel committee is trolling right-wing blogs.

#32 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:49 AM:

It seems premature to me. While Obama may well have done as much as some past recipients already (and more than some), his achievements to date are a pretty small fraction of the tasks he seemed to be setting himself. It feels to me that he'd diminished himself by accepting. Now, declining on the grounds that he hadn't accomplished enough yet, and letting that become known ... that would have been politically effective.

As for restoring the world's opinion of the USA? He's stopped digging, which is significant. He's started pulling things back, and correcting the relatively easy things. But world opinion didn't just snap back to the situation at the end of the Clinton presidency. The world has now seen another face of the USA, one far scarier - because it was so confused, as well as keen on violence - than previous Republican administrations of the post-1945 era. We've also learned that quite a chunk of the US population thinks it was a really good thing, and wants to elect another one like it.

So we're really worried that the USA might turn that way again, and that affects all relations with it. Back in 2003-4, people in the UK with a clue about geopolitics were seriously, if privately, disussing what to do when it became morally impossible to be a US ally any more, which did seem to be a possible result of Bush's trajectory at the time. It will take the world's opinion of the USA a generation to recover from GWB.

#33 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:51 AM:

I think dsquared has the right of it:

Surely it ought to be a basic criterion for winning a peace prize that you shouldn’t be currently fighting a war, or at the very least that you shouldn’t be increasing your commitment to a war you’re already fighting?

Ah, well. Could be worse. Henry Kissinger was once awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:15 AM:

I am not George W Bush.
I am Spartacus!

#35 ::: Pamela ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:17 AM:

I'd say it's a vote for hope and a new attitude of international collaboration, rather than a "the rest of the world be damned" unilateral stance that GWB represented. Also agree that it's early. What's kind of sad is that, though some have said it is meant to help him gain leverage internationally, it will only serve to inflame his opponents domestically.

#36 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:31 AM:

Ever since Bush's approach to diplomacy was inflicted upon the world, this exchange from North by Northwest has become even more ironic.

"I don't like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me."
"Perhaps he's trying to give you one last word of caution, Mr. Kaplan. 'Speak softly, and carry a big stick.'"

#37 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:38 AM:

The problem with the 'incentive' strategy is that it fails to perceive US domestic politics in the same way that US hawks failed to understand the likely effect of strongly expressing support for the green movement in Iran.

Yeah, maybe it'll be an incentive to live up to the promises and potential. But it might also be an extra incentive for the GOP to block any such efforts and otherwise bring Obama down. It'd be twice as sweet for them to make both Obama and the Nobel people look bad. (And then there are the rapture people for whom anyone peace oriented must surely be the antichrist.)

Personally, I think someone like Morgan Tsvangarai would have been a better choice. Sure, Mugabe's still in control, but Tsvangarai's peacefully overcome near-fatal beatings to obtain a seat in government, and things have arguably improved somewhat (though mostly due to changing to the dollar from their currency which was rapidly approaching Planck scale value.)

#38 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:45 AM:

#23 Charlie

My immediate reactions were basically, "This combines exquisite spite at the US Luddite warmonger religiosity screedermongers, with approbation for the change in Executive Branch, and with an implicit lobbying and urged for continued rejection and remediation of policies and attitudes promulgated by the US Executive Branch in 2001-2008."

The Nobels originally were supposed to be awards for people who were in the early phases of their careers, and to get them recognition and help further their careers--the MacArthur Awards had done a certain amount of recognition and freeing up of the honorees from having to spend their time scraping up living expenses and research grants rather than creating/researching.... one of my mother's cousins endowed a chair at Harvard years ago. An aunt had gone with the cousin's widow, to the annual festivities where Harvard fetes those who've endows chairs. My aunt told me that the MD-researcher who had the life appointment, expressed his gratefulness that being in an endowed chair, meant that he didn't have to spend his time scrambling for grant money, writing and pitching proposals for his research--that having the chair provided him the wherewithal to do the research and have graduate students also doing research, from endowed funds authorized for his use.

The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a politician, has a different flavor than a researcher or artist getting a MacArthur or Nobel--it goes beyond the monetary value, which for researchers and artists provides them an economic cushion, into the public visibility and international acclaim--and for the Peace Prize, in particular, emphasizes a moral dimension, of benefit to humankind.

This year's Nobel Peace Prize, that's particularly cogent. There was a large and virulent cast of characters involved in the 2001-2008 depredations--Karl Rove, for example, the political officers gag-ordering federal scientists from talking about salmon in the Pacific northwest USA, those who mandated and performed the censoring and rewriting of supposed research reports and studies to match pre-set predetermined dogma-based conclusions, those responsible for and implementing of censorship of federal websites involving removal without replacement or removal with replacement of information by slanted sectarian credo, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, those who blocked the 9/11 commission from being anything other than a figurehead--Max Clelland was on NPR earlier this week, saying that he quit the 9/11 commission because it was blocked from actually doing any real investigation, and that it came within one vote on the committee--it needed a sixth person--to order the White House to cough up records and access which the White House was completely obdurate regarding, the appartchiks who gutted the federal government of investigators and prosecutors who were looking out for truth and the well-being of "We the people of the United States of America" as opposed to the dogma of various evangelizing branches of Christianity or the increased wealth of highly remunerated executives and ownerss of for-profit corporations....

This year's Nobel Peace Prize was not a "he's not (that single iconic enthusiastic figurehead who as figurehead manager presided over a raping (Abu Ghraib atrocities included raping minor boys in front of their relatives....) and rapacious Administrtation)," it was a repudiation and indictment of the entire US Executive Branch and its actions in 2001-2008, and a show of support for remediation and dismantling as rapidly and effectively as possible, the regimens implemented in 2001, and restoring the services, expertise, outlook, and values that had been prevalent in the US Government before the purgings performed 2001-2008.

The questions remain, though, will Mr Obama actually do the reconstruction and do the purging necessary, and facilitate investigation necessary for finding out who did what when and how, to remove the burrowed in operatives.... This year's Nobel Peace Prize is a morality award and award of encouragement, to do more and reshape/restore the USA as an international beacon for the benefit of humankind, instead of a beacon erected by breakers luring ships to their doom and breaking and those on-board to being victimized with property loss, enslavement and/or death....

#39 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:47 AM:

@26: "It's pretty telling that people thought Tsvangirai had a shot at the Prize for joining a "unity" government in Zimbabwe."

Sadly, I think there's something to be said for even that, rather than resorting to violence.

#40 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:03 AM:

The ABM / nuke work was predicted and predictable, but the way Obama's people managed to use it as a way of getting Russia's help in dealing with Iran, that was a stroke of genius. His "muslim tour" was an extremely bold move, like his "tough love" attitude to Israel. Chances are that he's going to be the first US president in an extremely long time NOT to start a new armed conflict. For that alone, the prize may well be deserved once he steps down. It basically says to the US administration that they are on the right road, and they should keep going in that direction.

I personally think that this is also a way for the "international public opinion" to help him, while he's under attack in his country for all the wrong reasons. It gives him some more political capital to spend when foreign policy choices have to be justified at home.

And even if it was for "not being GWB", at the end of the day, can you blame us Europeans for celebrating the fact that the most powerful military in the world is finally not led by malicious and corrupt warmongers?

#41 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:14 AM:

Fragano@22: 1?

I think that one exciting development is that Obama can now be on stage at the IgNobels. With Paul Krugman.And interpretative dancers.

#42 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:21 AM:

We watched Michael Moore's Capitalism, A Love Story last night.

Which, while including the joy of Obama's election, hasn't got anything to say about his administration's ability to put a halt to the further plundering of the nation (as well as the world) by the out of control banking and finance industries.

So, this does feel deeply premature.

Love, C.

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:25 AM:

I think this is extremely odd, and possibly a poor tactical move on the part of the Nobel committee. I think it may make certain things Obama needs to do harder, and it will intensify the extreme right's hatred of him. If this causes their heads to explode, that's good, but I think it will give them ammunition: "See, he's in the pocket of Old Europe," and suchlike nonsense.

Fungi, I think you meant prescriptive. A prescription tells what should be done; a proscription tells what is forbidden.

#44 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:27 AM:

#40 Giacomo

And don't forget that the USA is the only country to have ever dropped radioactive wavefront extremely high explosives on cities.... There are other countries which possess "dirty bomb" weapons with fearsome radii of destruction and broadband electromagnetic pulses, but only the USA has ever actually deployed and set any
off in actual combat....

You left out the "religious fanatics" part of the coalition with the corrupt and malicious warmongers....

#45 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:30 AM:

Xopher @44 - I think that is my dilemma. Is the Nobel committee pushing Obama towards peacemaking (prescribing) or trying to block escalation or yet another war (proscribing)?

On reflection, more the former than the latter, but possibly both, which would mean an entirely different word. I don't think pr?scribing works.

#46 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:30 AM:

Oh, I forgot to mention the upside: the Taliban is furious. That gave me a chuckle. Like they expect to see eye-to-eye with the Nobel committee! They are the enemies of everything the Nobel prizes stand for, and not just the one for peace; they oppose literature and science and everything that lifts humans out of suffering and misery.

I hope their heads explode too...and this time I mean it literally.

Actually I'd like to lock our American extreme right in a huge arena with all the Taliban, and all the guns and ammo they can possibly want, and then...never unlock the doors at all. Seal the whole place with concrete. Bwahahah.

#47 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:32 AM:

FungiFromYuggoth @ #27: I think the word you were fishing for is "prospective".

#48 ::: Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:36 AM:

The emperor still has no clothes, but now he has a Nobel Prize to cover up his nakedness.

My reaction is a basically a combination of malkinfreude (H/T Balloon Juice Lexicon), and Jim Henley's:

"Barack Obama, God love him, has continued the American military presence in Iraq, spread the war in Afghanistan to Pakistan, continued to rain remote death down on Somalis who wander too close to people our famously inept intelligence operations flag as enemies and continues to keep “all options” on the famous “table” regarding the country sitting between Iraq and Afghanistan. His administration proposed and will approve a real increase to the world’s most bloated military budget. The Committee might as well give the Biology Prize to the Discovery Institute."

"Renamed Desert Prize" indeed.

#49 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:37 AM:

Fungi, I don't actually think they have the power to do either. Proscription, especially, has a sense of authority as in "I'm proscribed from [entering] Karhide" (Therem Harth rem ir Estraven, in The Left Hand of Darkness). It's a legal thing, or a religious thing, but it implies some kind of enforceable authority over the person or people to whom the proscription is issued.

While anyone can "give their prescription" for what to do about something, there's a slightly derisive implication to that, which is that they're setting themselves up as doctor of the world's problems.

I might suggest 'directive' or 'instructive', but I agree it's difficult to come up with a good word for the precise meaning. Perhaps their isn't one for "intended to guide him in a specific direction."

#50 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:50 AM:

Abi: WRT to your observation #2, the nomination of Obama this year came at a time when he had no track record on which to base a nomination. Unless US presidents are routinely nominated for Nobels as soon as they are inaugurated (say, GWB in 2001), it looks odd to say the least.

re 34: Spartacus did not win a Nobel, though.

re 38: To put your words more succinctly, it was the Not Dick Cheney prize.

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:55 AM:

C Wingate @ 50... Spartacus did not win a Nobel, though

On the other hand, he had nine Oscar nominations, and four wins.

And speaking of Nobel Prizes... This year's Ig Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining - by experiment - whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.

#52 ::: David Sucher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:03 PM:

Considering that
1. the readers of this blog are I suspect almost 100% Obama-voters,
2. the consensus seems to be that the award was not warranted
3. Obama is a very good politician,
my bet is that he will do the correct (in all ways) thing and turn down the Prize in some graceful and appropriate way.
At least I sure hope so.

#53 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:08 PM:

C Wingate @50:

Unless US presidents are routinely nominated for Nobels as soon as they are inaugurated

Nominations are sealed for 50 years, but I would not be astonished if American presidents were not nominated an awful lot. Look at the qualifications to nominate, and you can see why, for instance, Bush and Blair were nominated in 2002.

#54 ::: David Sucher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:08 PM:

And the primary reason Obama should turn it down is that it actually weakens him by putting him and his accomplishments (or lack so far) at the center of the global spotlight. It makes Obama the individual the issue. He doesn't need that now, especially in dealing with other world leaders much less the USA crazies.

#55 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:13 PM:

I would have preferred it if Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (the man who saved the world) had won the Nobel Peace Prize. What happened with the idea to contact Jimmy Carter to get Petrov nominated? Unfortunately, it appears that we won't be able to see the nominations list for 50 years.

#56 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:14 PM:

David Sucher @52: I'm not an Obama voter.

I suspect there are many others here who aren't, either.

#57 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:19 PM:

Constance @ 42:

Then I guess it's a good thing he won the Peace prize and not for economics.

I'm in agreement, mostly. He could do much better than he has on the economic issues. But. Given the utter mess he inherited, and the progress he's already made in the short time he's been in office, this is more than just a nice gesture of recognition. It's the international community saying that they got his back for the big job ahead of him. Going in to negotiations with Iran and figuring out the best way to go about settling Afghanistan, it's nice to know that you have friends, rather than wondering if the rest of the world is going to sit on the sidelines, or hinder your attempts at progress.

#58 ::: John Dallman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:36 PM:

Wingate@50: It isn't surprising that someone would have nominated Obama even before he was installed. Anyone can have fanatical supporters, even good guys.

There were about 180 nominees this year; if that's at all typical, I wouldn't be surprised if someone nominated GWB in 2001. implies that members of Congress would be invited to nominate (see so nominations for any and every US president would be expected.

#59 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:41 PM:

Xopher @46: Actually I'd like to lock our American extreme right in a huge arena with all the Taliban, and all the guns and ammo they can possibly want, and then...never unlock the doors at all. Seal the whole place with concrete. Bwahahah.

What makes you think that, if locked in together, the Taliban and the radical right wouldn't get along just fine, then coordinate an escape and try to reassert their God-given world dominance?

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:46 PM:

Well, it looks like Obama is accepting it as a "movement" Nobel rather than a "personal" Nobel:

I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel Committee. Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize, men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to build, a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history 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.

Speaking personally, I think that, although the right wing will make his life all the harder because of it, that's not a very good reason to make a decision on acceptance. That's just letting them control him, and I'd rather he didn't do that. It's not like they're going to give him an easy ride in any case, after all.

#61 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:47 PM:

The committee said, in effect, that it's for making us feel that things will improve.
So probably premature, but also not entirely undeserved even at this stage.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:57 PM:

abi @ 60... that's not a very good reason to make a decision on acceptance. That's just letting them control him

Yeah. No matter what he does to be conciliatory, they'll never like him, so why bother?

#63 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:57 PM:

Some of us are potential Obama-voters who did not vote for him.

I'm thinking one of two things: either this is like a year in which nothing good got written and so the Hugo goes to a very weak candidate because there's nothing better, or else a shrieking WTF. If Obama accepts this when Wilson got the League of Nations going, and Roosevelt negotiated an end to an actual war, then he demeans himself and the Prize by accepting it for not being George Bush.

(Then again, we all know how the League of Nations ended up, and Roosevelt basically got rooked by the Japanese strategy for the war, which was "attack Russia, seize Manchuria, and then get the US to broker a deal before the Russians could reinforce the Far East.)

I dunno. The goals are noble, the idea is nice, but the more you give out the Nobel Peace Prize to try and push things in the direction you want, rather than recognizing actual accomplishments, the less effective it becomes.

#64 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 12:58 PM:

Giacomo @40:

Chances are that he's going to be the first US president in an extremely long time NOT to start a new armed conflict.

Too late. He's already started in on the Moon people.

#65 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 01:06 PM:

If he declined, the wingnuts would use that against him. The only person to decline the Nobel Peace Prize was Le Duc Tho in 1973, officially on the grounds that there was no peace in Vietnam ( phrases this as "conditions in Vietnam" would not permit him). Many people, at the time and since, have said, or speculated, that this was because he refused to share it with Kissinger.

Reasons aside, the wingnuts would seize on the fact that the only person to refuse the peace prize was a Communist.

#66 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 01:08 PM:

Speaking as one who supported Obama during the election, I'd be a lot more thrilled about this if he had followed through after his election and had, for instance, disavowed the Bush administration's commitment to kidnapping and torturing foreign citizens, imprisoning suspects without trial, and spying on our own citizens, instead of simply proposing to change the rules and venue slightly.

#67 ::: PixelFish ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 01:20 PM:

Like many others, I feel that this was premature and would like more follow-through on my hope, please.

That said, one of the early actions of his presidency (and one of the few to take place before the nomination period had ended) was to repeal the Global Gag Rule, a policy of ours that impacted the health of women all across the world. By repealing it, he did open up a way for other countries to promote women's health without worrying that the US would cut aid funding. Invaluable.

Now if he'd just show the same initiative on some other issues.

#68 ::: A.J. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 01:22 PM:

the more you give out the Nobel Peace Prize to try and push things in the direction you want, rather than recognizing actual accomplishments, the less effective it becomes.

Does not compute. It's impossible to be effective with regard to something that's already happened.

I don't have a problem with the peace prize being given out to encourage efforts underway. It beats giving prizes for ceasefires that don't hold.

#69 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 01:35 PM:

#57 ::: Keith Kisser

There's much connection between the state of non-peace we're in and the state of the economy. The Haliburton-KBR darth vadar people are still building facilities in Iraq and in Afghanistan that are funded via contracts that have no oversight, no accountability -- and the money and responsiblity is still by and large non-traceable. None of this has been stopped, and the excuse is national security and we're at war. How much are we bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan daily? Do we even have numbers?

Obama's done nothing to rein in or stop the state of non-traceable tax money to these same corps via the wars that the cronies began. He just changed the focus from Iraq (where we still are and are still expanding bases and facilities) to Afghanistan.

Love, C.

#70 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 02:11 PM:

Serge (51), points out that this year's IgNobel Peace Prize was for determining whether it was better to be hit over the head with a full bottle of beer or an empty one. As a Nobel Laureate, Obama will be invited to next year's IgNobel ceremonies in Cambridge. He might want to say something about his experience last summer, using beer bottles to bring peace to a deeply-fraught, conflict between Cambridge residents.

#71 ::: LDR ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 02:13 PM:

I also feel that it's premature. But Abi's quote @60 makes me feel better about it.

Let me be clear, I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.
#72 ::: CosmicDog ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 02:14 PM:

It's not fair to tie the Nobel Peace prize to an accomplishment. Remember when Al Gore won? It was for raising awareness of global warming. I feel that it was well deserved, but he didn't actually accomplish anything (yet). The President of the United States actually said out loud, in front of people, that the United States is not at war with Islam. That is something in itself, a foundation to peace that no other U.S. President has offered. His open hand and willingness to listen to other world leaders has set tone of cooperation and trust that our 'enemies' can hold on to and offers the hope of peace. If raising awareness about global warming deserves a Peace Prize, the U.S. President saying "You are not our enemy" certainly does. In my humble opinion.

#73 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 02:43 PM:

The especially weird thing about Obama receiving an award for not being GW Bush is that he hasn't actually been doing a very good job of it. As others have pointed out, he's continuing both of Bush's wars, adopting Bush's "surge" tactic for Afghanistan, covering up Bush's torture regime, and continuing Bush's domestic wiretapping.

The freepers are going nuts over this, of course, but some of their article headlines are actually pretty funny:

  • Obama Named Motor Trends Car of the Year
  • New World Record: Obama Jumps Five Sharks
  • Obama Declared Fifth Element
  • William "Bill" Ayers Wins Pulitzer Prize for Dreams of My Father
  • Obama Swims English Channel -- Lengthwise!
  • All Chuck Norris Facts to be Replaced with Obama
  • Obama Gets to Tootsie Pop Center w/o Biting
  • Obama becomes the second student in Starfleet Academy's history to defeat the Kobayashi Maru test!!
#74 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 02:48 PM:

It is interesting to think of this as implying that the world really believes in American exceptionalism: that just being a leader of the US who is attempting to change the course toward a more peaceful world (which GWB probably thought he was doing as well, to the extent he thought about it) is worth this kind of recognition. I think it's early times, too, but I'm not on the committee and didn't see who was nominated.

#75 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:00 PM:

Tom Whitmore @74:

I'm not sure GWBush CAN think -- after all, this is the man who can't watch TV and eat a pretzel at the same time...

#76 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:04 PM:

By handing Obama this award, the Nobel Committee (for which read, the Europeans) can be seen as saying to the United States, "Thank God you're sane again, we are so relieved to have you back." I think that's the spirit in which Obama accepted it. I agree, he hasn't earned it, not yet. I hope he does.

I also agree, this is the award for not being George Bush. It demonstrates how Bush's administration looked to people outside the country: as a complete disaster, from which the US and possibly the entire world might never recover.

It looked that way sometimes to me, too.

#77 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:10 PM:

Still looks that way to me, Lizzy. Civil liberties don't appear to have even begun to recover, and I'm not sure they will.

#78 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:23 PM:

The Nobel Peace Prize was given to Bishop Desmond Tutu in 1984 for aspirational reasons, it appears. From the press release at the time:

The Committee has attached importance to Desmond Tutu's role as a unifying leader figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid in South Africa. The means by which this campaign is conducted is of vital importance for the whole of the continent of Africa and for the cause of peace in the world. Through the award of this year's Peace Prize, the Committee wishes to direct attention to the non-violent struggle for liberation to which Desmond Tutu belongs, a struggle in which black and white South Africans unite to bring their country out of conflict and crisis.

Apartheid didn't end until 10 years later.

There's precedent, then, in awarding the prize in hopes that the recipient's good works will continue.

#79 ::: Mary Arrr ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:25 PM:

My first thought -- will Obama ever be the door prize in the IgNobel Awards "Win a Date With a Nobel Prize Winner" contest?

#80 ::: DaveKuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:29 PM:

So the wingnuts still insist that a minority has to accomplish more than a non-minority to qualify for recognition? That's how it appears to me with all their claims that the President hasn't accomplished anything.

#81 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:39 PM:

CosmicDog @72: Obama needed to say that the U.S. isn't at war with Islam, but he's not the first American president to say so. Obama needed to reiterate what Thomas Jefferson said two centuries ago, what FDR made clear during World War II, what other presidents have probably said, because the Shrub made it so clear that he, at least, was at war with Islam.

#82 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:39 PM:

Well, to some extent the wingnuts are being something of a stopped-clock-right-twice-a-day on this, though there is, for example, Steve Sailer's unmitigated bigotry.

#83 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:39 PM:

Saw a great suggestion over on Just Another Earth-Bound Misfit. Obama should donate his cash prize to ACORN.

Aaah... to imagine the heads bursting...

#84 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:56 PM:

Xopher and Fungi -- it finally hit me that the word you were looking for is "prospective", rather than prescriptive or proscriptive.

#85 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 03:58 PM:

Before I get caught up (and so "caught up").

I don't think it's about being Not-Bush. I also don't think the nominator(s) were thinking in those terms; much less the panel which put him into real contention.

Looking at the past awardees is interesting. Teddy Roosevelt got it for brokering the peace in a war (Russo-Japanese) in which he had some hand in starting.

Wilson (in retrospect) got it for establishing a failure; and being so late to the party in WW1 that it's quite arguable that our entrance to the war (which is the only reason the League of Nations got off the ground, even though the Senate refused to let us play along) that the outcome was so screwed up as to make WW2 not only possible, but probable. Had we not joined, then Germany wouldn't have had that as a rationale for surrendering; thus not being put to a real surrender (as well as the Allies thinking they'd won more securely than they had: None of that, of course, means the peace would have been any better without us being in the mess to bring it to a more rapid conclusion).

More to the point, the actual effect of his actions has been to make international diplomacy more fruitful. Without the US runnin amok, and shooting a lot of dimplomatic efforts in the foot, the actual prospect of things being more peacful has gone up a great deal.

So, on balance, I think it's probably deserved.

(p.s. we don't know who else was nominated, which means the actual merits of the various contenders aren't apparent to us. It may have been a no-brainer).

#86 ::: Paula LIeberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 04:01 PM:

#60 abi

One of my college dormmates has a minute fractional Nobel, for his work doing modeling that shows global warming (one of the myriads of scientists who shared that particular Nobel Prize.

The dogma despots despised that Nobel Prize award, too...

#87 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 04:23 PM:

Charlie Stross at #56

As a duly registered and voting citizen of the country I share with Obama.... I didn't vote for him. I didn't vote for McCain, either. Both the Democratic and Republican parties manage to tick me off long before I am able to cast a ballot.

My personal response has been along of the lines of "Really? That's nice. I guess."

Any awe I have for the Nobel is tempered by the fact of how people get nominated and the fact that a committee decides who wins. I'm a cynic where governments, institutions and committees are concerned.

I do wonder how many Nobel prize winners attend the IgNobel ceremony the following year.

#88 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 04:42 PM:

Tarry Karney @85: Teddy Roosevelt got it for brokering the peace in a war (Russo-Japanese) in which he had some hand in starting.

Which is sort of traditional. There's a cynical joke that says the best way to get the Nobel Peace Prize is to kill a whole big bunch of people for a while, then stop.

Thing is, Obama hasn't stopped. As Glenn Greenwald points out in Salon today, Obama's actually stepped up the rate of killing in Afghanistan, and is planning to send 40,000 more troops.

#89 ::: Matthew Daly ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 05:00 PM:

Oh, come on. The Norwegian Nobel Committee gives the Peace Prize to someone who couldn't even wrangle an honorary doctorate from Arizona State!

I'm glad that five guys in Norway like my president and all, but it doesn't move my day one way or the other. I'm far more influenced by this weeks' news that Obama snubbed the Dalai Lama to appease China. Maybe an apologist would argue that that's fostering international dialog or whatever. But I'm seeing over and over times when Obama will make principled pledges and then compromise them away. I'm sure he'll give a lovely speech in Oslo, but I am also sure that there will be many times in the next seven years that the Committee will be heartbroken by Obama's actions in a way that Martti Ahtisaari never will.

#90 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 05:11 PM:

I rarely find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Michael Moore, but this fits my view pretty well.

#91 ::: JaeWalker ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 05:13 PM:

::: Xopher ::: @43

President Obama getting up and having his morning coffee intensifies the extreme right's hatred of him... so I'm not worrying too much about the Nobel. I say congratulations, Mr. Obama, and keep on striving.

#92 ::: Nicholas Rogers ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 05:46 PM:

I think it's much more interesting that by accusing the Nobel Committee of awarding the prize for "not being GWB" they've backdoored that very premise some legitimacy.

By implying that, they are making the case that the presumably learned and wise people responsible for voting on the prise find "not being GWB" sufficient cause; and that vis-a-vis GWB really was that bad.

This has caused me to speculate that "every time a wingnut screams, somewhere a sane thought gets it's wings."

I kinda find that encouraging.

As a side note, I take the Nobel Committee at their collective words that moving "the most powerful nation on earth" (as we like to think of ourselves, NOT quoting the committee) into a more constructive role in world affairs was cause for a majority vote of committee members.

Congratulations to President Obama AND all the other Nobel Prize winners this year.

#93 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 06:53 PM:

I am waiting for the wingnuts' declaration that "See! Told you he was the Antichrist!!" to come thundering across the blogosphere.

While I don't know that it has been earned yet, this President might have been nominated for it just for his work in social justice issues had he never been elected. I truly hope that he does go on and uses this as encouragement to try harder.

#94 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:14 PM:

Of course the right wingers are seething in outrage. And that may be a good thing if it distracts them from whatever else they would have been outraged about.

Xopher @ 60 and others: Did you notice the word "aspirational" which cropped up downthread.

#95 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 07:53 PM:

My hiking buddies told me about this this morning. (Slater Trail+Blue Loop: gorgeous scenery on a fairly tough trail.) They agreed with most of you folks here: Premature, but worth it just to make the wingnuts' heads explode. And I agree, "now earn it".

And besides welcoming us back to sanity, it does give a definite smackdown to the neocons -- the Nobel Peace Prize has it's own mythology, which the propagandists won't easily be able to counter.

#96 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 08:01 PM:

Victoria @87: Awards can be given by one person, by a committee of size such that it can reasonable hold meetings (in person and/or electronically), or by vote of a large group of people.

I don't think reducing the committee to, say, the Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament would improve matters, or that you are proposing this be a one-person show. If it's to be voted on, the nomination process becomes more important, as do defining the electorate and deciding how to run the election. Sure, one person one vote seems simple, but with a large number of nominators, the odds are good that there will be a multi-way tie: say, 10,000 votes, with the top seven vote-getters having 43 votes each. Hold a runoff, or use an open-ended single-transferrable vote system? [Nobel's will limits the number of winners in a category in one year to three.]

If you're cynical about awards in general, that's a different position, and one you wouldn't be alone in. That you are also cynical about institutions suggests this. But I don't think the Nobel Prize organization can legally just fold up its tent and stop giving awards, though "no award" is an option in any field, any year.

#97 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 09:23 PM:

David Harmon @ 95: the Nobel Peace Prize has it's own mythology, which the propagandists won't easily be able to counter

As an unwritten rule, the award is not given to a conservative (such as Ronald Reagan or Pope John Paul II), and it is not given to anyone who challenges the scientific establishment on the issues of the theory of evolution or theory of relativity, such as standouts Raymond Damadian, Fred Hoyle and Robert Dicke.

The award has repeatedly been granted in way to insult a disfavored scientist by honoring a less deserving person for the same achievement. The insult is enhanced by giving the typically three-person shared award to only two recipients, creating an embarrassing omission for the third, as in the case of the awards that should have gone to Fred Hoyle and Raymond Damadian.

Frequently the award is given as a reward to a liberal politician or diplomat, such as Al Gore, given at a time to possibly boost his chances for becoming president. Most recently the award has been the subject of an investigation for corruption.

-- Conservapedia on the Nobel Prize

#98 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 10:23 PM:

ISTR having seen a reference here, back in 2005, to Sean Hannity falling all over himself to praise one of the Terri Schiavo "experts" as a a nominee for the "Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine" [sic], based on an ineligible letter of recommendation from a Florida Congressman.

#99 ::: Tehanu ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:01 PM:

@35 Pamela:

What's kind of sad is that, though some have said it is meant to help him gain leverage internationally, it will only serve to inflame his opponents domestically.

EVERYTHING serves to inflame his opponents domestically, so what's the difference? If his initial statement had been what they claim they want, "I am not worthy," they'd be screaming right this minute about how stupid he was to refuse it.

#100 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:08 PM:

#97 Joel

The inventer of maglev (whose name is escaping me at the moment) who also was co-inventor of railguns and one of the inventor of angioplasty and such (use of magnetically-guided probes and/or balloons for a form of surgery, clearing heart arteries, and putting balloon in as a sealant in the brain) did not get a share of the Nobel given for someone else his work was instrumental for, for which to other people got Nobels -- just recalled the name, Henry Kolm.

Somehow I think that he has no use for Conservapedia, however (his family got to the USA with a degree of difficulty and the neighbors who didn't, mostly died in death camps....)

#101 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:14 PM:

#99 Tehanu
If they choke to death from choler and indignation , the world would be a better place...

#102 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2009, 11:35 PM:

#101: Hell, they get off on choler and indignation.

#103 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 12:16 AM:

I _know_ why President Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize.

Remember the campaign ad (I think someone referenced it above) about the 3:00 AM phone call?

I just know that some of the committee saw that ad and one said, "Who'd call the President at 3:00 AM?" and the other said, "We could...."

#104 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 12:29 AM:

Paula Lieberman @ 100: Note that that Nobel in physics was shared by three scientists, the maximum number permitted by the terms of the prize. I don't know anything about the relative merits of the three winners and Kolm; in a quick web search, I don't see any indication that the committee was deliberately snubbing Kolm -- that he was "disfavored", rather than their judging that his contribution was less than the others'. Now, if they'd awarded the prize for that research to two researchers, omitting Kolm, and his contribution to that field was similar to the two winners', that would have been a clear snub.

#105 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 12:38 AM:

Tehanu, #99: Exactly! What is it going to take for Obama, and the Democrats generally, to realize that trying to placate the Republicans is a Sisyphean and counter-productive task, and to simply go on and do what has to be done without reference to anything they do or say? Lock 'em up in their own little playground and let them throw sand at each other instead.

#106 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 12:51 AM:

In agreement with the majority view; hope he will come to fully deserve the award. Haven't yet seen much commentary on the announcement that he will donate the money to charity.

#107 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 01:11 AM:

This was way too premature. This could turn into the Chariots Of Fire of Nobels. I could make a better case for Al Gore getting the Nobel, and I don't think he deserved it. Obama may deserve the Nobel by the end of his presidency but right now he's in the unenviable position of Private Ryan, who was told "Earn this."

I imagine we should revisit this in about four or five years.

#108 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Talking Points Memo has the State Department's reaction:
"Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum -- when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes."

#109 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 08:25 AM:

Soon Lee @ 106: Haven't yet seen much commentary on the announcement that he will donate the money to charity.

Comment-length rather than column-length, but John Cole is spot on, IMO.

#110 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 09:29 AM:

#87 ::: Victoria:

Any awe I have for the Nobel is tempered by the fact of how people get nominated and the fact that a committee decides who wins. I'm a cynic where governments, institutions and committees are concerned.

Well, that leaves either awards given by individuals, and I don't think there's anyone with enough clout to give the award prestige, or an award given by a broad vote.

The logistics of a world-wide vote for a peace prize are left as an exercise for the reader.

#111 ::: Adam Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 09:53 AM:

I don't think Obama deserved to win...yet. It's a well done so far and keep going from the Nobel Committee. They want Obama to deliver on his promises and have awarded him ahead of actually achieveing anything!! I have written a blog post on the topic, 'Will the real President Obama please stand up?' if anyone wants to take a look

#112 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 10:09 AM:

Addendum to my #105: Actually, I would dearly love to hear Obama (or anyone else on the Democratic side) say that trying to placate the Republicans is a Sisyphean task... just for the fun of counting the number of wingnuts who would then accuse him of saying that all Republicans are gay!

#113 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 11:30 AM:

Raphael @ 109 & Tehanu @ 99: It seems to me that if you really want to see a wingnut's head explode, the money should be donated to a charity that no Republican could be seen to criticise publicly. A charity that not only does good but which visibly supports things that the most winged nuts pretty much claim ownership of. I suggest these people. Could even Limbaugh the Hutt call donating to them a bad idea and get away with it?

#114 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 12:45 PM:

How about a brand new charity, the Unfunded Mandate Fund? heh.

#115 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 02:27 PM:

I am fascinated by the number of first-time posters who seem unhappy at President Obama's being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I wonder how many of them (or their parents) were truly outraged at Martin Luther King's receipt of that award?

#116 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 02:29 PM:

Or grandparents, Fragano. Or grandparents.

#117 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 10, 2009, 02:54 PM:

Xopher #116: You're right!

#118 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 12:46 AM:

This is a stark case of apples and oranges. King's efforts for racial justice and peace were well known by the time he won the Nobel. What made me unhappy when I learned of it many years later was how hard it was for the Atlanta establishment to embrace King after that. He should have had a ticker tape parade down Peachtree.

#119 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 01:14 PM:

#104 Joel

I never said I thought it was a snub, only that not all people who contributed majorly to an innovation that the Nobel gets awarded for, get recognized for their contributions by the Nobel Prize authorities.

Others -- The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize this year reminds me a bit of something in Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny--having to elevate someone else to be "Brahma" with "Brahma" having been murdered, the rest of the Pantheon Deicrat ruling elite of the planet had a decision to make regarding whom to elevate to be the new Brahma and why.... I expect that the Nobel authorities were engaging in very much a political decision and choice regarding whom to designate, this year.

"Fourth persons have politics. -- multiple Anne Maxwell novels.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 01:58 PM:

Found on

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, nodding at one of the reasons President Obama seems to have won the Nobel Peace Prize -- he's not former President George W. Bush -- and sticking his finger in Republicans' eyes at the same time:
Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes.
#121 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2009, 06:53 PM:

It's not surprising that so many people are disappointed in Obama, and certainly the Nobel award impells us to see how far he hasn't gone in the first 9 months of his presidency. I, for one, did not expect that much for him, because I don't consider him a progressive, a liberal, or even really a centrist.

But still, have we all forgotten that he succeeded in winning the election with a platform that included ending the war in Iraq, ending the torture of arbitrarily-arrested individuals, etc.? Granted he hasn't delivered on a lot of what he promised. What he did do is prove that a lot of Americans agreed with that platform, something both we and the rest of the world were not really sure about at that point.

And, as I pointed out in the "Nomination Thing" thread, there have been years when the award went to militarists who were involved in some sort of peace negotiation during or after their wars (Henry Kissinger¹ and Teddy Roosevelt). I'd say Obama has shown some support for international peace already; the Cairo speech alone should at least get him the prize for Attempting to Close the Gulf Between America and the Moslem World Opened By Previous US Administrations.

1. It would appear that the Nobel Committee actually was against the award to Kissinger and Le Duc Tho (who refused the award, the only one ever to do so).

#122 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2009, 06:36 AM:

I can't remember where I saw the comment that "the Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi haven't actually achieved that much either"...

#123 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2009, 08:45 AM:

Paul Duncanson @113, Could even Limbaugh the Hutt call donating to them a bad idea and get away with it?

Yes. Yes, of course he could. And he would. It's how they work (although they aren't the only group/crowd that works that way): Once you've fallen into disgrace, the only thing that matters is that you've fallen into disgrace- nothing else matters anymore. And any connection with the enemy, or even anything that gives the impression of connections with the enemy, can make you fall into disgrace- yes, even if you're a charity dedicated to handing out bacon sandwiches to veterans.

Throughout the Bush years, whenever I read on the Internet whom the online right-wingers were targeting now, I kept thinking "Ok, that has to be it- they can't put that (person/group/institution) on their List of Enemies and still be taken seriously"- but they just went on and on.

Fragano Ledgister, ajay, then again, neither Martin Luther King nor the Dalai Lama nor Aung San Suu Kyi were escalating wars in Afghanistan. And at least with the letter two, I guess the "no achievements" argument was made by some people, somewhere, although not too prominently.

#124 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: October 12, 2009, 11:44 AM:

Raphael @ 123 -- Does Limbaugh's declaration that he's siding with the Taliban and Iran do anything to diminish his own credibility with his listeners?

#125 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 15, 2009, 05:08 PM:

I liked this explanation for the award.

#126 ::: Gray Woodland sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 21, 2011, 04:38 AM:

Be satisfied with this, lazy spambot!

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