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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama’s Nobel May Drive Right Over the Edge

It’s fun to imagine the shocked expressions in the dark precincts, where toil writers for Human Events, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, Fox News etc. on learning that President Barack Obama will be awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Rest assured that they will be deploying the most rancid vitriol at their disposal throughout the day.
Sure, we’re all surprised. But this is likely to drive wing-nuts over the edge, or at least the few who haven’t already succumbed to Obama derangement syndrome. Expect denunciations of the Nobel Committee, heightened whining about Obama’s ‘free ride’ with Euro-liberals, splenetic critiques of his foreign policy etc. It’s all in the oven.
They will certainly say that the Nobel Peace Prize is just another liberal doo-dad, not mentioning of course that Republicans and conservatives like Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Kissinger, George C. Marshall, Elihu Root, Meachem Begin, F. W. de Klerk and others are counted among previous recipients.
They will pooh-pooh the notion of giving the world’s most prestigious award to a leader who has been in office less than 10 months. Heck, they will say, President Carter didn’t get his Nobel Peace Prize until 20 years after his presidency.
Surprised as even progressives may be, Obama’s selection makes good sense. He has enkindled new hope around the world that the planet’s greatest military and economic power now has sane, prudent leadership. Though many were caught off guard when he went to Cairo and addressed the Arab world, it was seen as the most sincere effort ever made by an American leader to promote healing in the Middle East. Citing President Obama’s “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland put it this way at the press conference announcing Obama’s selection:

We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what he has done in the previous year. We would hope this will enhance what he is trying to do…He has created a new international climate…One of the first things he did was to go to Cairo to try to reach out to the Muslim world, then to restart the Mideast negotiations and then he reached out to the rest of the world through international institutions…The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons…Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play

And further,

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…
For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that ‘now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.’

The political strategy implications of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize should be considerable. It gives him added leverage in foreign affairs. It puts his critics in regrettable harmony with leaders of terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad, one of whom said in the afore-linked NYT article that Obama’s selection “shows these prizes are political, not governed by the principles of credibility, values and morals.”
It’s hard to say how much the Nobel selection will help in terms of Obama’s domestic agenda, but it can’t hurt and it certainly adds lustre to photo-ops with the President, who already enjoyed a substantial margin of approval over congressional Democrats and even more so over Republicans. Who knows, it just may encourage a Republican or two to think about building a more impressive legacy than that of being a toady for the health care industry.

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