OSLO — The Nobel Committee announced Friday that the annual peace prize was awarded to Barack Obama, just nine months into his presidency, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
The award cited in particular Mr. Obama’s effort to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. “He has created a new international climate,” the committee said.
The announcement stunned people from Norway to the White House. “There has been no discussion, nothing at all,” said Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in a brief telephone interview.
“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,” the committee said in its citation. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.”
“We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future, but for what he has done in the previous year,” Mr. Jagland said. “We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do.” The prize comes as Mr. Obama faces considerable challenges at home. On the domestic front, he is trying to press Congress to pass major legislation overhauling the nation’s health care system. On the foreign policy front, he is wrestling with declining support in his own party for the war in Afghanistan. The White House is engaged in an internal debate over whether to send more troops there, as Mr. Obama’s commanding general has requested.
“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics,” the committee wrote. “Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.”
Interviewed later in the Nobel Committee’s wood-paneled meeting room, surrounded by photographs of past winners, Mr. Jagland brushed aside concerns expressed by some critics that Mr. Obama remains untested.
“The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” Mr. Jagland said. “And who has done more than Barack Obama?”
For Mr. Obama, the award could, in a strange way, prove a political liability. As he traveled overseas during his campaign for the presidency, he was subjected to criticism from Republicans who argued he was too much the international celebrity. Winning the Nobel at such an early stage in his presidency could further that kind of criticism, especially in Washington’s hyperpartisan political environment.
Mr. Obama also suffered a rejection on the world stage when he traveled to Copenhagen only last Friday to press the United States’ unsuccessful bid to host the Olympics in Chicago. Mr. Emanuel, who heard the news at 5 a.m. when he was heading out for his morning swim, said he joked to his wife, “Oslo beats Copenhagen.”
If you cant to see some of the nutters' reactions, check this out: Forays Into Freeperville - Nobel Peace Prize EditionUPDATE II:
WASHINGTON – Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele released the following statement today:
“The real question Americans are asking is, ‘What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain – President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility, or backing up rhetoric with concrete action.”
Read the churlish statement here.
One of the major reasons the Nobel Committee is giving the award to Obama is because he isn't George W. Bush, and that has to be the biggest "fuck you" ever conceived by anyone.
Here's the actual Nobel announcement from Oslo (via TPM):
UPDATE V: Al Gore is thrilled President Obama won the Nobel:
Brilliant Democratic National Committee statement on Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele's, and the GOP's reaction in general, to President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize (Via Politico):
"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," DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse told POLITICO. "Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize - an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride - unless of course you are the Republican Party.UPDATE VII:
"The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It's no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore - it's an embarrassing label to claim," Woodhouse said.
This is why it's not too early for such an honor:
What a difference a President makes: "U.S. Most Admired Country Globally" Thanks to Obama
I have to say of the right-wings hysterical reactions to Obama's win, it was Glenn Beck's reaction that I thought was most imaginative (via Think Progress):
Beck: Obama should turn down the Nobel and give it ‘to the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project.’
Engaging in a bit of explicit blog-baiting on his radio show today, Glenn Beck declared the naming of President Obama as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize recipient “the last nail in the coffin” for the credibility of the Nobel committee. Beck conspiratorially claimed that the award revealed that “these progressives are extraordinarily powerful and this campaign of Barack Obama, this global campaign for Barack Obama is done by global interests that have extraordinary power. They’re very well-connected.” Beck said that the prize should have instead been given “to the Tea Party goers” who have protested Obama:
BECK: Of all things, the Nobel Peace Prize should be turned down by Barack Obama and given — you ready for this, oh this one’s going to make headlines — should be give to the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project. … Because of the arrogance of the progressives that thought no one would stand in their way. That he would be able to accomplish everything. Two weeks into his presidency, they nominated him for it and said, “oh this is going to be a slam dunk.” Because of the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project people that stood in his way and stopped him from accomplishing the things that he thought, “please, I’m the Messiah, I’ll be able to accomplish that.”