Friday, October 9, 2009
Today President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Concerning the honor, the president said he was "both surprised and deeply humbled."
He's not the only surprised one. In fact, the N.Y. Post, among others, reported, "There was a gasp in the room after Obama's name was announced as the winner" in Oslo.
Why the surprise on the part of the president? Why the gasp from the crowd?
Such shock is the only reasonable response to President Obama's receiving such a prestigious honor when, to be honest, he hasn't done anything to merit it. While the Nobel Peace Prize in the hands of an American is always an occasion for gratitude and pride, this one seems to have somewhat embarrassed the president, for he, too, knows it was not deserved. This is no criticism of Obama. After all, he didn't award it to himself, but it's always embarrassing to receive an honor one knows he has not earned.
So how did President Obama handle the awkward situation?
After recounting an anecdote about his daughters alerting him to winning the prize, alongside news of the family dog’s birthday and the upcoming three-day weekend because of Columbus Day, Obama said, "To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformational figures who have been honored by this prize."
I, for one, am glad to hear the president admit as much. He was not just being humble; he was being honest. How absurd is this award? The Norwegian Nobel Committee nominated President Obama a mere twelve days after taking the oath of office. What had he done during this short time? For what accomplishments did the Nobel committee bestow the Nobel Peace Prize upon President Obama?
Heralding Obama as a transformative figure in U.S. and international diplomacy, the committee 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. 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."
So basically this is about being a rock star and pushing the promise of more hope and change. How utterly mind boggling. Trying, I suppose, to wrap his own brain around why he was so honored, the president reasoned that the prize has been awarded in times past "to give momentum to a set of causes."
Now, I'm all about faith and expecting the best, but come on. This is like giving the NBA MVP award on credit to a rookie simply because he went #1 in the draft and had potential to do something special. That would never, ever happen in professional sports, and what would be the impetus behind giving a Nobel Peace Prize--of all things--using this same standard? It defies common sense.
President Obama, appearing as confused as the rest of us, stated, "I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the challenges of the 21st century."
In other words, going forward he will attempt to earn the honor he already received today.
The Nobel committee certainly has an interesting way of doing business.