I was awake pretty early this morning, unable to sleep. Jim has been out of town for a few days, so I let George sleep in my bed, and let me tell you, a tiny little 3-year-old boy can overtake a king size bed in a matter of seconds. So when the kicking would not subside, I relented, allowed being awake to take over, and snapped on the television set. I was thinking, hey, maybe I’ll get to see that moon bombing thing everyone has been talking about.
But instead, one miss Savannah Gutherie of MSNBC told me that SURPRISE! President Obama was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
So what is the Nobel prize anyway?
Well, in 1896, one Mr. Alfred Nobel dropped dead (don’t worry, he was old). In life, Mr. Nobel was a chemist and engineer, and an extremely successful manufacturer of armory equipment. He even invented dynamite, something that J.J. Walker was always happy about.
Mr. Nobel was basically a bizillionaire who made his fortune manufacturing ways to kill people. Eight years prior to his death, a newspaper had incorrectly gotten wind that he had died, and printed an obituary for the still kicking Mr. Nobel, belittling him for his life’s work and referring to him as “the merchant of death.” This apparently struck a nerve with Alfred. So when he finally did go to that big dynamite factory in the sky, he left the bulk of his fortune — $250 million — to the creation of the Nobel Prizes. Those prizes are awarded by the Nobel Foundation, based out of Mr. Nobel’s homeland of Sweden. Each year for the past 108 years, prizes have been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature and, of course, for peace. There’s also a prize for economics, which is apparently not specifically a Nobel Prize but a prize in honor of Alfred Nobel, and when it was established, I guess it caused some grief. But I digress.
According to the Nobel Foundation, “the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded for work in a wide range of fields including advocacy of human rights, mediation of international conflicts, and arms control.” President Obama was awarded this prestigious prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
Of course, that leaves one big old question — does he really deserve it? I mean, when it comes to Barack Obama, I am definitely a fan. I get his e-mails, I donated to his campaign, and I seriously have his photo hanging on my fridge. But the cutoff date for submitting nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize was just two weeks after the President was sworn in to office. As the fine folks at Saturday Night Live told us last week, Mr. Obama hasn’t really gotten a lot done in his first nine months in office. So what could he possibly have done in his first two weeks to even be considered a nominee? Really? I mean, he sure made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but that’s not exactly the criteria for a prize that gives you world-wide acclaim, a fancy diploma, a pretty medal and, of course, a cash prize of roughly a half-million U.S. dollars.
It seems, however, that for the President, this award was granted not for what he has done, but for what he can hopefully do. Essentially, he was given a Nobel Peace Prize because of his campaign promises. That doesn’t sound good. In fact, after the prize was announced, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the prize himself in 1984, said this:
“It’s an award coming near the beginning of the first term of office of a relatively young president that anticipates an even greater contribution towards making our world a safer place for all. It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama’s message of hope.”
Holy crap. No pressure, dude.
Of course, plenty of people disagree with the award, starting with the lovelies at the Fox Nation, and continuing, frankly, world wide. It’s not a Republican vs. Democrat thing. Many people of many backgrounds feel that the award was based on an idea of what Obama can do, as opposed to what he has done, which seems to be the purpose of the award. I mean, lots of people “promote” peace. Accomplishing it is a whole different issue.
I worry that this will put an enormous amount of pressure on this President. That in the future, the likes of GleN Beck and Rush Limbaugh and the squinty-eyed Sean Hannity (have I mentioned how much I want to have his Irish heritage revoked — he so does not deserve it) will use it non-stop. Every time something is NOT done, we will hear, “hey, where’s the PEACE PRIZE winner now?” Every time Israel and Palestine toss bombs at each other, Obama will be scrutinized for not “promoting peace” as his prize suggested he could. Afghanistan. Iraq. Iran. The Taliban. Osama bin Laden. Obama’s rivals have a brand new, built-in way to analyze and audit his performance — the man has a Nobel Peace Prize. He should be doing better, they’ll say.
Obama himself was surprised and felt undeserving of the award.
“I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century,” Obama said.
Nice try buddy, passing it on as a “world wide” award. But it’s yours. You have to carry it. You can’t pass it along.
I hope he does well. I want him to do well. I have faith that he will do well, yet still, I am worried. I cannot stand the nonstop ill-will wished upon this man, and I hate that this is just an invitation for more.
One thing’s for sure — it sure did eclipse the news that NASA shot the moon this morning.