While some of us are still recovering from our pleasant, but confusing surprise of the president winning the Nobel Peace Prize, some battlelines were drawn Friday.
On one side you had your pundits, negative nellies and conservative opposition frothing at the mouth (as they’re known to do), screaming that this is a travesty and will cause the end times, on the other you have the president’s defenders, suddenly super knowledgeable in Nobel Peace Prize committee rulings, defending why someone who is in the midst of executing two wars and still hasn’t figured out how to close Guantamano deserves a Peace Prize.
In the middle are me and several other folks who are happy for the president, but think the award was a tad premature. Obviously he’s inspired the world and the committee has the right to give the award to whomever they see fit, but even the president didn’t think he deserved it and was humbled by the whole experience. But at the end of the day, it’s a good thing and always a good thing when an American receives such a huge accolade.
Of course, there’s no room for a middle in American politics. Stand in the road and you will get run over. Hence when I looked to see what other writers, pundits and politicos were saying, things were heavily split and partisan with the exception of a few, like academic Melissa Harris-Lacewell, who seemed just as initially stunned as I.
I assume Kanye West will be at the ceremony, where he will grab the mic and express the sheer madness of this choice. This president is still prosecuting two wars and just bombed the moon. I support my President, but Desmond Tutu he is not.
Within the scheme of people the Nobel Peace Prize committee has awarded in the past — from Henry Kissinger to Yasser Arafat — President Obama seems more desirable than say, an actual Vietnam-era warmonger and the former head of the PLO. And many people have received the award based on what they are going to do or plan to do, versus what they’ve already done (see every award given based on peace in the Middle East). And conservatives have to be careful not to turn this into “Chicago Loses the Olympics” all over again. While some people may be befuddled, the president winning the Nobel Peace Prize is a good thing for America. This is not the time to go on some bizarre tear where you appear to be longing for the days when the international community disliked the United States. Americans like to win things and like to be liked, loved even, more than feared and despised. President Obama inspires many people worldwide. Obviously this accolade is rooted in that inspiration.
Still, you can’t talk about President Obama in the US without a fight breaking out so, I’m just going to get out of the middle of the road and let everyone else have at it.