Nobel Prizes in all kinds of fields from research, literature and medicine to politics were considered the international pinnacle in the particular field, awarded for outstanding accomplishment. I was always proud when an American was so honored.
President Barack Obama became only the third sitting president to be so honored when he received the peace prize. Am I proud again? Some, not completely. Circumstances behind his selection debased the award’s prestige and reputation in all Nobel fields, probably losing the respect of millions, if not shattering it.
Consider: The deadline for nominations was only 12 days after he took office. He had no time to accomplish anything of Nobel-deserving significance in less than two weeks even if such accomplishments do come in due time when such an award would be well earned. All could be proud.
The weakest part of his campaign resume was foreign policy, in which he had zero experience. Compiling and preparing a comprehensive nomination for such an award takes considerable time. This was in the works long before inauguration.
My first thought upon hearing the news was did staff prepare the nomination hoping if successful it would be great for his re-election campaign? My second thought was of the peace prize awarded as the Vietnam War was winding down to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his Vietnamese counterpart. The Vietnamese diplomat refused to accept the award, saying fighting was still going on and it would debase respect for the award. He put principle above personal recognition. Would Obama score points by doing likewise?
The judging committee was identified as 100 percent leftist socialists. I wonder what was in the nomination, since Obama’s only accomplishment at that point was campaign rhetoric. It is sad to see such an award lose its prestige in the minutes it takes to announce it
A plus for Obama in an opposite field: His administration has kept us free of terrorist attacks on our soil so far, interrupting several attempts in the making, some in the nick of time. The reason is he is doing just about what George W. Bush was doing despite increasing grumbling of his leftist base.
As he ponders what strategy to adopt, let’s hope he doesn’t make one of the few tactical mistakes I think Bush made. That was to try to appease the domestic political opposition by cutting short the troops the battlefield commanders said were needed to get the job done then.
Satirically, rumor says his staff is already busy on a nomination for the Nobel in Economics for next year. Think of it: the first president to win two Nobels in two different fields in consecutive years. The third one will be the literature nomination, a lofty book outlining his platform for re-election.
Three prizes in consecutive years, in three categories! I passed it on to several friends who simply remarked some variation of "I wouldn’t be surprised at anything involving him any more."
Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The Times. You can reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears every other Tuesday and on gainesvilletimes.com.