By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
The news that President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize has many asking, "um, why?"
Was the award for ending or winning the war in Iraq? No.
Was the award for ending or winning the war in Afghanistan? No.
What about following through on his campaign pledge to immediately close Gitmo? Certainly not.
Democrats are quick to say that criticisms from the G.O.P. are dangerous and unpatriotic. Brad Woodhouse, communications director of the Democratic National Committee (and in full disclosure, a friend and all around great guy) incredibly issued a statement charging that "The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists—the Taliban and Hamas this morning—in criticizing the President."
Hyperbole aside, it's nice to see Democrats willing to call Hamas terrorists, though it doesn't explain why Obama is more willing to work with them than Republicans in Washington.
But it's not just Republicans who are questioning the Nobel committee's decision. Lech Walesa, former Polish President, Solidarity leader and recipient of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize said, "So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far."
Even White House officials were amazed, reportedly asking if today is April Fool's Day.
The award could pose political problems for Obama, both at home and abroad. With the international accolades now official, there's less incentive for Obama to act in a fashion that continues to seek worldwide favor. And coming off an embarrassing visit to Copenhagen, traveling to Oslo to be congratulated by the international elite for things he hasn't yet done could appear as selfish at a time when unemployment (and deficits) creep higher.
Perhaps the best thing Obama can do is politely decline the award, saying that, while honored, he has been president for only nine months and still has much to accomplish. Such a move not only would be hard for any party, political or otherwise, to criticize, it might also be the right thing to do.