Sunday, October 11, 2009

More on that Peace Prize

It is not possible to enumerate all the people who seem to think that awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize (by the Norwegian Nobel Committee) somehow diminishes the actual prize because he has done nothing to deserve it. Well, true, but at least he did not start the Second Intifada or produced a film full of lies to scare the world’s population and earn lots of money. (And let us not forget that Al Gore beat some far worthier possible recipients.)

Nor is this the first time the Nobel Prize Committee chose “hope” over “change” as John Rosenberg writes, reminding us all of the preposterous story of Rigoberta Menchu who was given the Peace Prize in 1992 for an autobiography she did not write and which was full of lies from beginning to end. When the truth came out, her defenders displayed their contempt for Guatemalans by insisting that they cannot understand the meaning of truth and, in any case, Ms Menchu deserved the prize for what she represented rather than for what she achieved.

Mona Charen gives a list of recent winners and a motley crew they are, too, with one or two deserving names. I do wish, however, that she and others would stop wittering on about “Europeans” wanting this or rejoicing over that. There are no Europeans, only various countries and their people. They cannot possibly be all lumped together into one group. The Norwegian Nobel Committee does not represent Europeans; it does not even represent Norwegians. Whenever I read this sort of stuff about “Europeans” I start feeling a certain amount of schadenfreude about the mess Americans have got themselves into. Say what you like about the various Europeans, we did not elect Obama. Then I recall what his Administration will do to the West in general and subside.

As we know the announcement was greeted with some bemusement and as Patterico points out even Obama’s cheerleaders a.k.a. the MSM were not entirely happy with the situation. Perhaps, they, too, heard the roars of laughter that went up all round the world. Others of the usual suspects were more complimentary though even they sounded a little bemused.

Some people are completely in favour. Fidel Castro, Reuters reports, said “on Saturday it was "a positive measure" that was more a criticism of past U.S. policies than a recognition of Obama's accomplishments”. Hmmm. Nothing wrong with his brain cells then. Of course, we do not know whether he said it himself or whether it was the ventriloquist they employ in the Havana morgue.

Patterico, who thinks he should be nominated for the next Nobel Peace Prize (they don’t give it to anti-socialists, Patterico, so don’t even think of it) also has a story about the DNC Communications Director, Brad Woodhouse, expressing the somewhat fatuous opinion that those who mock President Obama’s Peace Prize are lining up with terrorists like Hamas and the Taliban. Rather odd that, since other people have justified the Prize by pointing out how nice the President has been to these two organizations. (And as some of the mostly hostile to Woodhouse comments point out, it is also odd that the Dems are now acknowledging that there actually are terrorists out there.)

Let me get this straight: hurling vitriolic abuse at General Petraeus when he was putting the surge in Iraq into place is a form of higher patriotism; feeling pleased that the poisoned chalice of the Olympics has passed Chicago by and laughing at the President who has done nothing receiving the Peace Prize that has been given to a real terrorist is a sign of treason and terrorism. Boy, I wish I had thought of that.

Mind you, not so long ago the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi called all those who were protesting against Obamacare Nazis and un-American.

Of course, it is all too late as the jokes are pouring in about Obama winning all sorts of sporting trophies. Patterico again has a few jokes and Instapundit links to a bunch of cartoons. And here is a wonderful blogpost about a first year postgraduate student, Quintus Pfuffnick, winning the Nobel Prize in Economics “for his willingness to tackle difficult problems, his commitment to improving the economic system, and his goal of bringing efficiency and equality into harmony”.

Instapundit rounds up the various stories and I have neither the desire nor the ability to compete with Glenn Reynolds.

Megan McArdle sums up the bemusement of those who are not simply amused:
I guess I must hate America, but I actually think it's kind of ludicrous that anyone is even trying to argue that Barack Obama truly deserves this Nobel Peace Prize. Could he have deserved it, after he'd had more than nine months in office? Easily. But he hasn't had time to, y'know, accomplish anything. Unless they're giving out the Prize these days for stimulus bills and banking sector interventions. The committee claims they awarded it for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"? Can even his most ardent supporters come up with any effort he's made that really qualifies as more extraordinary than those of everyone else in the world?
The point that needs to be made is that it is not those who hate America who dislike this prize (or the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee). There is nothing glorious for America in this. To the contrary. President Bush was much hated by the tranzis and they hurled abuse at him and the country he led. But they did not despise him. How could they? The man stood up to the tranzis and carried on as he saw fit.

When it comes to his successor the story is very different. Whether it is the IOC shooing him and the First Lady contemptuously out of the way or the Nobel Peace Prize Committee throwing a bauble and a great deal of money at him, it is not dislike or fear that one sees; it is contempt. The United States at last has a President the transnational organizations do not have to be afraid of; he is no danger to them. Indeed, they have made sure of that by giving him this worthless bauble and over $1 million.

Claudia Rossett, thinking along very similar lines, analyzes the make-up of the Committee and speculates what they and their colleagues will want from the President in return for this award.

Well, maybe. Because there is a problem about that money, as Volokh posits, Article 1, section 9 of the United States Constitution says:
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
Does this describe the Norwegian Committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, their Prize and the very handsome sum of money that goes with it?


  1. So far he has paid no heed to the constitution, the automotive bail outs are outside his constitutional power, as is the healthcare fiasco, he is a crook he will pocket the loot and not tell the IRS. As for a description of the nobel prize committee? that would make a good competition.

  2. All well and good. BUt what did the previous Presidents of the US do with their Prize? If they accepted it, then the legal principle of 'precedent' allows Mr Obama to accept his Prize too. Which in any case, he has already promised to give to charity.


  3. Which previous Presidents? Carter got it long after he was president so it did not matter; Teddy Roosevelt was still president in 1906 and I am not sure what he did with the prize or the money. Incidentally, he got it for negotiating peace between Russia and Japan, one of the few occasions of somebody actually deserving it; Woodrow Wilson got it 1919 for creating the League of Nations that his own country rightly refused to participate in. I should think the money did go to charity but one cannot be sure. Legal precedents of that kind do not work in the US where there are constitutional rules. As for Obama saying that he will give the money to charity - he says a lot of things and an astonishing number of them never happen. Which charity one wonders. ACORN?

  4. Isn't part of the answer that being Not-Bush is actually a reasonable validation for awarding the prize? From the perspective of an organisation whose criteria for awarding the prize is that "during the preceding year [...] shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses" it makes reasonable sense. Bush (unarguably?) did more to fracture relationships than most individuals over the last 40 years, Obama has apparently gone further than just being Not-Bush to build bridges.