Friday, October 9, 2009

Either I'm dreaming or this is the Onion.

Driving to work very early this morning in the rain and with only one cup of coffee down, I heard the news, ‘Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.’ And thought surely this is a joke or the Onion on the radio or something but sure enough he got it.

I’ve been reading comments and quotes from around the world and find, yes, a few supporters but by and large most agree it was premature at best. At worst it reflects on the Nobel folks’ credibility and a host of other things.

I don’t have much to add to the discourse except I was reviewing a list of former winners and noted a few things: about half of the names listed I have no idea what they did, who they are etc. But some I do recognize.

• 2002 - Jimmy Carter – like him or not he does have a record of achievement.

• 1999 - Médecins Sans Frontières – seems like a worthy group to me.

• 1997 - International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams – another worthy recipient

• 1994 - Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin – hello? What kind of Kool-Aid were they drinking in Norway that year? Arafat?

• 1993 - Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk - can’t argue much about name #1

• 1988 - United Nations Peacekeeping Forces – this one must have been a joke too!

• 1986 - Elie Wiesel – probably long overdue.

• 1983 - Lech Walesa - heard him quoted today as wondering why Obama got it so early?

• 1979 - Mother Teresa – no argument here.

• 1964 - Martin Luther King Jr. – I’ll bet this one upset a few people back then.

• 1906 - Theodore Roosevelt – here are some of his words when he accepted the prize:

“The gold medal which formed part of the prize I shall always keep, and I shall hand it on to my children as a precious heirloom. The sum of money provided as part of the prize by the wise generosity of the illustrious founder of this world-famous prize system, I did not, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, feel at liberty to keep. I think it eminently just and proper that in most cases the recipient of the prize should keep for his own use the prize in its entirety. But in this case, while I did not act officially as President of the United States, it was nevertheless only because I was President that I was enabled to act at all; and I felt that the money must be considered as having been given me in trust for the United States.”

Bottom line I don’t see how Obama’s name belongs on this list. If years from now we look back and find that during his administration Iraq has emerged successfully from this disastrous episode. Afghanistan is restored and maybe (although highly unlikely) there is some sort of peace in the Middle East, then his name might rightfully come up for nomination.

A couple of tidbits. I read that the deadline for noms was back in Feb. What in the world had he even done by Feb.?

A baseball analogy: To get into Cooperstown – the Hall of Fame – players have to be out of the game for awhile (several years I think) and maybe part of this is to make sure their record was not some sort of fluke – no asterisks by their achievements etc. and then they can come up for a vote. Sometimes they don’t make it in on the first ballot.

Obama hasn’t been playing in the big leagues or on a world stage for even a year yet. It was silly but understandable when people idolized him during the campaign. No one really knew him but he gave some people hope. But as of now, the jury is still way out on how people will look back on his Presidency in a few years. He might not even get re-elected in 2012.

Honestly I was never a fan of Bill Clinton but at face value alone he deserves it more than Obama. He must really have some major heartburn; first his Veep Gore gets it and now this.

But also a perhaps a bigger issue here is somehow this prize, I thought, was about the world at large and efforts – while not always successful, to bring about World Peace. But when you look at the names, often the peace was much more confined and often never even achieved. Many of the former recipients lived and worked on a very small stage and what they did might have impacted only a country – not the entire world. But I get the symbolism that what they did could serve as a model to the world.

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