The First Draft: What was the Nobel committee thinking?

October 9, 2009

OBAMA/Even before sunrise in Washington, tongues were wagging over the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s choice of President Barack Obama to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. And the big question — aside from whether a first-term president in his ninth month in office has done enough to deserve the award — was, what was the committee thinking?

We know what they say they were thinking. Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, told ABC’s “Good Morning America”: “When we have a person whose ideals are so close to the ideals of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, we wanted to give whatever support we could to continued action in these fields.”

But if you read the official announcement, it sure sounds like it translates to: Obama isn’t George W. Bush.

There could be other considerations, of course. Perhaps the committee was still irked on Obama’s behalf about the public snub from Arizona State University, which invited the president to speak at commencement but didn’t give him an honorary degree because “his body of work is yet to come.” Obama joked about it when he gave the speech and the university eventually named a scholarship after him.

Or maybe they wanted to steal the thunder from NASA’s moon bomb project, which was ballyhooed by U.S. TV networks and shown live on the morning talk shows. If that’s the case, they needn’t have bothered. The NASA event was a bit of a damp squib, at least visually. If they find water at some point, that would be a different matter and the Nobel folks may have to consider the rocket scientists for a physics prize.

NOBEL/Was it a super-duper consolation prize for Obama, after his trip to Copenhagen last week failed to net the 2016 Olympic games for Chicago?

Possibly another factor was in play. If Obama goes to Oslo to collect his prize in December, it would be only a quick hop to Denmark, where international climate change talks are scheduled. The committee mentioned climate change in its citation. Were they hinting that he ought to go and put his stamp on these negotiations?

CORRECTS: Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is in Oslo not Stockholm.

No way to know at this point. But we can definitely ask: what do you think?

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

Photo credits: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Obama at Arizona State University commencement, May 13, 2009)

REUTERS/Bob Strong (Nobel award ceremony in Stockholm, December 10, 2008)

34 comments

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Many good remards about the Nobel Committee.

But please check all your facts before posting online!!!!

The Nobel Peace ceremony is not in Stockholm. If Obama goes to Stockholm to collect the prize, he wont get any. But if he lands in Oslo….

Posted by Snøfte Smith | Report as abusive

[...] Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize-  [Huffington Post] Praise and Skepticism Greet Obama Nobel award- [Reuters] Analysis: Obama’s Nobel honors promise, not action- [Associated Press]  Syria Reacts Warmly to Obama Peace Prize- [Wall Street Journal] The First Draft: What was the Nobel committee thinking?- [Reuters Blogs]  [...]

Ummm… he stopped sarah palin from being one heart beat away from the presidency…. doesnt that speak volumes in itself?

Posted by Jose S. | Report as abusive

Why the negativity here? Obama is a huge change from the prior administration. He’s reached out to the Middle East, started negotiations with Iran and is engaged in the world. I say be proud of the award for our president as opposed to all the negative chatter.

CONGRATULATIONS MR. PRESIDENT

Posted by John | Report as abusive

What a charming egalitarian gesture, this prize! What’s next? A Nobel Law Enforcement Prize to Barney Fife?

Let’s see if he takes it. Turning it down would be sensible; accepting it will prove that he’s an egotistical buffoon.

Posted by jmbreland | Report as abusive

this is an EMBARRASSMENT!! more tropps in Afghanistan, war continuing in IRaq, Gitmo still open and they give him a PEACE prize!!!

Posted by dvictr | Report as abusive

Name the change people. The only change is in the *perceived* atmosphere surrounding the presidency. He said the word “change” so many times in his campaign that you’ve just assumed it’s happened.

Posted by Josh | Report as abusive

I think I totally understand why Obama got this award; it will relate to the 2010 Nobel prize in medicine.

in 2010 a neurologist will study the area of the brain that was responsible for Bush derrangement syndrome and determine what this area of the brain now does, without Bush in the whitehouse.

They will discover Obama infatuation Syndrome and win the 2010 Nobel prize for Medicine in Neurology.

Or was it Psychaitry?

Posted by Heather | Report as abusive

Let’s see. Why the negativity?

Is it because we are racist? Or bitter? Or republican? Or hate filled? No.

It’s because…(brace yourself)

!!!HE DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO DESERVE THE AWARD!!!

Jeez. Do Obama supporters really not see a problem with this? The president has been made to look like a fool.

Europe might as well come to the next House of Reps meeting, put a crown on Obama’s head and start kissing his feet.

You want to know why all the Republicans have spent the last months decrying Obama’s popularity as meaningless popularity worship? This is why.

Posted by Uhhh | Report as abusive

Q.: What has Barack Obama done for the United States, the world and humanity? A.: Promoted communism, Karl Marx’s failed theory that is directly responsible for the hideous deaths of no less than 100 million people in the last century.

Oh well, after Al Gore was awarded the prize for his self-serving negative contribution to humanity, I suppose this was inevitable. Alfred Nobel is turning over in his grave and the Nobel Prize itself has become a sick joke.

Posted by A. Larsen | Report as abusive

we should not forget that the underlying cause of all these economic misery is the excessive price of energy
i.e. oil. Main culprits are the norwegians and the saudis.

Obama might have to take “real action one” day to solve this. It looks to me as if they were trying to buy him off.

President Obama should decline to accept the price.

Posted by Helmburger | Report as abusive

So I guess all you have to do is talk about “hope & change”, fly around the world in AirForce 1, bow to dictators,arrive in 10 SUV’s while telling the world global warming is a dire threat,call anyone who disagrees with you crazy,ignore the American people losing millions of jobs never to return to the US,give more $$$$ to welfare agencies instead of fostering business growth, and Voila’, THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE is yours ! Wow, cool.

Posted by yeah right! | Report as abusive

So our president is now awarded the same “Peace Prize” given to murdering terrorist Yasser Arafat in 1994. Why does the world take any notice of a committee that gives awards to like-minded individuals? Thousands of such awards are give each year by groups to people who support their causes — and pass unnoticed, as they ought to be. While the prize money may sound a lot, it is in fact quite trivial — would have little effect as a contribution to any congressional race. I hope we can more ignore the decisions of this committee as we do when one of our defense contractors gives an award to one of their employees citing their contributions to keeping the world safer.

Why do we, in America, think the rest of the world is a bunch of idiots?

Posted by ItHurts | Report as abusive

It seems like the classy/smart thing to do would be to decline it, you don’t want to be lumped in with Al Gore and Yasser Arafat before you’ve even done anything.

I’d be far more proud if I were George Bush, Just the knowledge I actually freed 10′s of millions of people from tyranny would be worth far more than the adoration of jouranlists, intellectuals, or a goofy Norwegian suck-up award to put on my mantelpiece.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

President Obama deserves the prize totally. A charismatic leader who has blazed a trail ever since stepping into the hot seat in January this year. He has energized Americans from all all walks of life and has shown his humane, multi-faceted leadership skills in bringing real hope to a country which was suffering its worst financial crisis. He has also provided much needed leadership to the rest of the world who were quite disillusioned by the unilateral policies of George Bush.

This is politics and the Nobel awardings of anything is irrelavent.

Before Mr. Obama, the Nobel officials awarded Mr. Gore for climate change, but the change is in the wrong direction. In addition this award to Gore came while Bush was President.
In Japan we’ve had the coldest years these past 3 (three) years, so where’s the Global Warming?

Dr. Crighton, who has passed away, became a writer. With his supperior brain power over Mr. Gore, Mr. Crighton’s research indicates a Global Cooling; and the Cox Iceshelf is very small compared the whole of Antartica’s growth in ice mass.

Continually, the lame ducks in Northern Europe, who has not made any recent significant scientific discoveries, are now awarding there political award to Mr. Obama the unproven leader. This is pure politics.

The Nobel prizes are a joke and they lacks majority respect among the whole of scientific communities.

Posted by Greg Rowley | Report as abusive

Was Mr. Obama born in America?

Are National Constitutions valued and respected?

Where is the Science to show one’s birth right?

According to law, can One be a President of the U.S.A. if they are not born in America?

Can this birth right be proven opposite current facts of a foreign birthright, and proven without a doubt?

Perhaps a very important person holding a very important office will make these next 4 years irrevelent if not obsolete in American history. Any laws and appointed offices held during this time, could be withdrawn and reversed. What a potential waste of time, money, and energy this could prove to be.

Just prove it.

Posted by Greg Rowley | Report as abusive

Greg. You, like most deniers, don’t know the diference between weather and climate.
Michael Crichton was an author of fiction. It’s no surprise that conservatives look to him as a credible source of denialist dogma.
The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama is a sign of the optimism that is sweeping the globe now that the United States has a President whose answer to the world’s challenges isn’t to reflexively invade, privatize, or proslytize.
The Nobel prizes may be a joke to you and they may lack majority respect among the conservative, flat-earth communities in GlennBeckistan, but it sure has you guys worked up. The truth about you guys is, even if Obama brought about world peace tomorrow, you would be criticizing him for destroying the defense industry.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

“The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama is a sign of the optimism that is sweeping the globe now that the United States has a President whose answer to the world’s challenges isn’t to reflexively invade, privatize, or proslytize.”

Yes. And not because he actually did anything. And that is the point.

You are the one thinking the nobel prize is a joke. Because you think the primary recognition for peace work should be given to Obama, just because he makes people feel good.

And you also feel the need to make personal attacks on people who disagree with Obama getting the award for doing nothing. And that speaks volumes.

Posted by Uhhh | Report as abusive

Duhhh- Obama makes people feel a lot better that his predecessor, and that is the whole point. The overwhelming rejection of the neoconservative agenda has ushered a new era of cooperation in the world.
Those who complain are just be making themselves look spiteful and foolish.

What really speaks volumes, however, is that the people who are doing the most complaining are the Taliban, Ahmadinejad, and conservatives.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

yes getplaning you are right he is getting the award for what he might do tomorrow.So the award is given because of his potential,and because there is optimism that he could do all these things that you surrogates believe he is capable of doing.This award in that case should a double,double nobel prize,because the other recipients had it easy,they had the opportunity to do their stuff and then receive the award ,he is getting the award first,then having to live up to the expectations you guys had of him.See how us conservatives are trying to figure this out getplaning,it is certainly” a turn out for the books”.I hope Hollywood are watching this could start a trend,Penn is a favorite actor of you liberals they could tell him that they are giving him a oscar for a movie that he might make next year,what an achievement.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

this is obviously an attempt to dictate our future foreign policy to a president who cares more about being perceived as “cool” by the rest of the world than about putting America’s interests first… after all, how silly will he look if he authorizes more troops to Afghanistan, or (as unlikely as it seemed even before the award) takes a hard line against Iran, after receiving the “peace” prize?
on a side note, having read this story and the accompanying comments from several other sources, i’m always amazed how many people call it the Nobel Peace PRICE – after they just read the article, where it was spelled out PRIZE! sheesh…

Posted by American Son '76 | Report as abusive

Here is a quote from President Obama on his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Let me be clear,” he said. “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations.”

So, he didn’t expect to win, he did not ask to win and acknowledges that it was not awarded based on his accomplishments. The decision was made by five Norwegians who see promise and vision in Obama’s leadership, so let’s stop all the bashing and move on to the important things.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

I researched some of the past winners of the Nobel Peace Prize and found some requirements for those who have actually done nothing but received the prize anyway. 1) you must be Progressive 2) anti-Jewish or anti-Israel 3) You must have oppressed your own people in a good Progressive cause. 4) Intentions matter, methods not so much. 5) you must have had little or no personal risk. 6) the reality of the reason you are awarded the award is immaterial, its the thought that counts.

The Nobel Peace prize has long been a reward for individuals who sometimes at great personal risk add to the betterment of Mankind but it is now more of a reward for good intentions, as they interpret them, not actual results.

Posted by Wes Wotring | Report as abusive

I see all of these comments lauding obama’s so called acheievements. Yet they fail to consider the timing. Nominations closed a mere 11 days after obama took office.

bottom line? He in no way deserves this award.

If he has any personal integrity he would decline this award. It won’t happen though, his ego wouldn’t allow it.

Posted by drg | Report as abusive

To the pro-obama supporters. I make you a challange.

Rather then accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being racist, conservative or bitter…

How about you actually tell us what Obama actually DID to deserve the award?

And why the award shouldn’t have gone to one of the other much more qualified nominees (of which there were over 200)?

The nobel peace prize is supposed to be recognising ACTUAL sacrifice and PRACTICAL work towards the establishment of peace.

Not pretty speeches or popularity. Not for increasing the ability of a person to bring peace. Not for causing subjective things such as ‘hope for peace’ or ‘hope for change’. But ACTUAL and REAL work.

So if you think Obama should get the award for nothing, WHY do you think this should be the case?

And stop with the ad hominem attacks, please. You all know better then that.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

Why would we have to prove anything to you? First off, did you create the Nobel Peace Prize? Did you complain about all the other wins you disagreed with? (Oh I’m sure you’ve personally labored over every Nobel Peace Prize victor just like you’d scrutinize Obama, amirite?)

Since Republicans apparently either have their content filters set too high, or have simply never learned about search engines, allow me to provide you with some insight (which I am sure you will believe is unworthy of such an award).

http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandida teFeed1/idUSL9535468

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace  /laureates/2009/press.html

If you need any additional web assistance, be sure and post your additional confusion/frustrations here.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

“Why would we have to prove anything to you?”

Ah, touché. Well, just for sh*ts and giggles, I suppose.

“First off, did you create the Nobel Peace Prize?”

Not relevent.

“Did you complain about all the other wins you disagreed with?”

Not relevent. But what the hell. I’ll bite.

I complained about some. But at least their awards were for real action. This award was the first time it was given for NO real action. Amirite?

“Since Republicans apparently either have their content filters set too high, or have simply never learned about search engines, allow me to provide you with some insight”

Another ad hominem attack. A sign that you can’t answer the question.

(Checks links)

Yep. Speeches. Political image. No actual action. Just as I mentioned. But thanks for confirming what I already said!

“If you need any additional web assistance, be sure and post your additional confusion/frustrations here.”

Sure. I have a question. I’ll cut and paste it from my previous post, as you probably missed it.

-How about you actually tell us what Obama actually DID to deserve the award?-

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

thats a valid point getplaning he is getting the award for making people feel better.There is a lot at present going on that people need to feel better about, and complaining about being out of work or foreclosing on their homes is spiteful and foolish,but there again not his fault it is Bushes fault.But by same token he is getting this award because it IS bushes fault according to you.He is only getting the award not for what he has done which is nothing, but because of what Bush has done.So in that case if you liberals are so pleased that Obama has received this award then at least give George some of the credit.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

He won because he makes people feel a lot better. You’re joking right? But if that’s the criteria then perhaps marijuana farmers, or massage therapists, should get the award.

Posted by Dho | Report as abusive

The award is totally fitting for Obama. Notice how the little he’s “done” aligns quite well with the previous Bush policies in Iraq (no change there) and Afghanistan (dither, dither, whatever happened to the “good war?”) He took Bush’s financial idiocy and quadrupled it (all the time sounding like a 5 year old telling mommy, ‘he started it!’) and hasn’t followed through on anything else. Gitmo rolls on (easy to critize but tough to change) and Gays still can’t come out in the military. Yes, the quality of this award fits the receipient.

Posted by Joe Blogs | Report as abusive

So brian thinks it was America’s exceptional militarism, and not some guy who’d rather talk than fight, that deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Hmmmm. OK, but when you combine this enormous military capability with the notion of “American Exceptionalism,” an immature frat boy for President and Dick Cheney as his handler, it’s also not a surprise that the rest of the world viewed this as a dangerous threat to their peace and security.

It’s perfectly understandable that the much of the world was very relieved to get rid of the Cheney/neoconservative crowd. So there’s some logic in awarding the Peace Prize not just to someone who rhetorically suggests there are other ways to get your way besides invading countries, but implicitly to American voters for kicking the worst warmongers out of office.

Posted by Scarecrow | Report as abusive

“So there’s some logic in awarding the Peace Prize not just to someone who rhetorically suggests there are other ways to get your way besides invading countries, but implicitly to American voters for kicking the worst warmongers out of office.”

Yes. But none of this logic addresses the fact that Obama hasn’t actually done anything.

Simple rhetoric and rewarding Americans for making the “right” choice at an election has never been relevent to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nor is claiming an intention to reduce nuclear weapons. Most presidents say so at some point in their careers. And most don’t get a peace prize out of it.

And if my memory serves me correctly, Bush wasn’t kicked out of anywhere. He served his two terms. And left on his own terms.

So can anyone mention what Obama DID do to deserve the award, aside from being popular?

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

scarecrow you are endorsing my point,you did not mention Obama you just said some one like him should have got the award after the bush regime,so Bush was really the big influence.So anyone in the 200 hundred applicants should have been considered as long as they were opposite to Bush.Does this smell as much about politics as peace?But you bring up another interesting theory that really the American people got the award for kicking out conservatives well at least 52%of them,all politics my friend the peace aspect only incidental.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive