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Kneale: Obama Gets Nobel Prize… For Not Being George Bush

It must be wonderful to be the beloved Barack Obama, to win laurels not for what you have achieved but for what you represent. To be lionized by an admiring world simply for being yourself. For getting yourself elected.

President Barack Obama
Photo by: Pete Souza
President Barack Obama

The startling bestowal of the Nobel Peace Prize upon President Obama is nakedly political and unabashedly premature. Perhaps the President should graciously turn it down and tell the world the truth: that he barely has begun and has too much left to do.

Other Nobel Prizes honor geniuses for bona fide breakthroughs in molecular science, economics, fiber-optics and other arcane fields. The Peace Prize is a matter of dark art and rank politics (see: Al Gore getting it in 2007 after having the 2000 election stolen from him, as his supporters saw it).

That is why this year’s Peace Prize really goes to President Obama . . . for not being George Bush.

Maybe that's too harsh. Maybe President Obama's work is done: He has coddled Iran into dismantling its nuclear program; resolved the Palestinian stalemate in the Middle East; completed the revival of our economy and the re-employment of its casualties and castoffs; and saved the world from global warming. (Whoops, make that "climate change," seeing as how, since 1999, the earth has heated up by only thirteen one-hundreths (0.13) of one degree Fahrenheit.)

Yup, perhaps the President already has earned his way into the Peace Prize pantheon alongside the likes of civil-rights icon Martin Luther King, protector-of-the-poor Mother Theresa, Nazi-hunter Elie Wiesel and the swashbuckling expansionist Teddy Roosevelt.

These people spent decades of their lives trying to lift the world. Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in a South African prison before being freed to lead his people. Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov spent over two decades clashing with an oppressive government and advocating for political freedom and disarmament.

Jimmy Carter, the first President to make human rights a global issue, left office in 1980 and spent 22 years negotiating peace between foes, building homes for the poor and writing on policy and geo-global politics. Then he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

As for President Obama? He rubbed elbows as a local community organizer in the political machine of Chicago for a few years, longer than he served in the U.S. Senate. (Whatever that tag "local organizer" really means; think “Acorn!”) He had inhabited the White House only six weeks or so before the nobel nomination process closed.

This makes even a guy who voted for Bam—as I did—cringe in apprehension: What is the President, who is not yet ten months in to a possible eight-year occupation of the White House—supposed to do for an encore? And what, exactly, do his benefactors expect in return for their unalloyed adoration of their chosen Beautiful Child?

We may dread the day he disappoints them.

Look at the soundbites, redolent with attitude, that greeted the Obama Prize.

"We hope that he will be able to achieve peace in the Middle East and achieve Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders and establish an independent Palestinian state on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital," the chief Palestinian peace negoatiator, Saeb Erekat, told Reuters.

And would you like fries with that?

The prime minister of Norway all but admitted this prize amounts to betting on the come: "This is a surprising, an exciting prize. It remains to be seen if he will succeed with reconciliation, peace and nuclear disarmament."

“It remains to be seen”??? So why give President Obama one of the world’s highest honors now, before the verdict is in?

Ah, because Obama makes us feel better—about ourselves. It’s a matter of premature, not just instant, gratification. We Americans are proud to have voted the first black man into the White House. Now the world’s rarified ranks of the elite want us to know: Good boys and girls! Good choice! They approve.

Handing Obama a Prize he hasn’t yet earned makes the Nobel folks feel better about themselves, too. “In less than a year in office, he has transformed the way we look at ourselves and the world we live in and rekindled hope for a world at peace with itself," gushes Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency and the Peace Prize laureate in 2005, according to Reuters.

See what I mean?

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