How Obama’s Nobel speech played in Washington

December 10, 2009

NOBEL-OBAMA/For a man who just won the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama didn’t look all that happy as he strode to the lectern in Oslo. He had that downturned smile that was almost an acknowledgement of all the critics who say the award is premature — especially for a commander-in-chief who has just vowed to send 30,000 more U.S. troops into harm’s way in Afghanistan.

The speech itself didn’t make much of a splash on morning television in Washington. None of the major TV networks carried it live, though CNN did, cutting away from Obama from time to time to show an audience listening attentively, with a few eyelids drooping. But viewers didn’t have many options if they wanted to see the speech as it happened. They could see a blink of Obama sandwiched in between the televised feature stories — Dillie the Deer, a taped interview with first lady Michelle Obama, a duel interview with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman to promote their new movie.

The Washington Post ran a live feed on its Web site; after the speech ended, there was a story and a photo slide show. The New York Times posted a text of the address. The Drudge Report – a one-stop online gateway for some in Washington — ran two small headlines about the Nobel ceremony (“Obama defends US wars as he accepts peace prize…” and  ”Norwegians Incensed Over Obama Snubs…”) over the main story. Just after the speech it was “SNOW DRIFTS TO 15FT!” but later it changed to “DEMS TO LIFT DEBT CEILING BY $1.8 TRILLION!”

Before the chattering classes start weighing in on how he did, let’s hear what you think? Was it statesmanlike or disappointing? Or something in between?

Photo credit: REUTERS/John McConnico/Pool (President Barack Obama poses with Nobel Peace Prize medal and certificate, Oslo, December 10, 2009)

7 comments

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Did he take so long to make his decision over Afganistan because he was worried about his Nobel image?

More importantly, did the award affect the eventual decision??

The Norwegians made a bet and lost; are they regretting THEIR decision???

We may never know the answers….but as an American, I’m embarrassed. Presidents should heed a lesson I was taught as a child….don’t accept credit for things you haven’t earned!!!!!

Posted by rhinechild | Report as abusive

I’m amazed at how people are ready to blast someone who actually makes the effort to make the rational argument. The President acknowledged that he wasn’t worthy of it, that Evil does exist in the world and must be dealt with, and that he has an obligation to protect his nation. I trust him. I don’t always agree with him. But I trust him. I cannot say that about anyone in Congress, or the House, or his predecessors.

Posted by Streetfighter | Report as abusive

The President admitted that he was not worthy of the award….

…and then he accepted it anyway.

Obama was given the award for doing absolutely nothing. He has no practical deeds to his name, except for endless rhetoric. And by this ceremony, the Nobel peace prize has been turned into a farce.

Now the peace prize represents a tacky award given to whoever Europe sees as popular and progressive, regardless of whether they have actually done anything to create peace.

Now it is true that Obama was not responsible for being nominated for this award.

But Obama is a political midas. Everything he touches turns to empty populism and rhetoric. Knowing this very well, he should have kept his fingers off that nobel prize.

He didn’t, so he is as much to blame for the death of the nobel peace prize as the Committee.

Posted by defcon86 | Report as abusive

As always, the President’s speech was nuanced, coherent and high minded. Undoubtedly, he was in an awkward situation but threaded the needle and made a speech worthy of JFK.
So the Washington establishment goes to Drudge for their news? That explains a lot.
I imagine the committee and other Nobel laureates were gratified.

Posted by earthbopnd | Report as abusive

All this “premature” talk is non-sense. Ok, he has omitted he was not deservate of this award at this time. I have seen college students receive college degrees who did not earn them, I even heard of a law and accounting student receiving their license that had not passed the BAR and CPA Exam – that is what ticks me off. Sometimes you can give an award on potential and a direction or as a sign of support (that is how I will view this). The image of America has turned an about face as President Obama travels the world speaking. Some of you don’t care how the world view US and some do (I will take the latter).

Posted by uc8tcme | Report as abusive

Evil is found in each and everyone of us. Where is the Presidents voice on unemployment, health care, Guantanamo banking regulation? Why did he get rid of his progressive campaign advisers and stack his cabinet with Wall Street insiders? What about the promise of change?

Woodrow Wilson was given the Nobel after WW I for his efforts in Paris at the Peace Conference. Never mind that we sold weapons to both sides of the war before we entered on the side of the Allies at Wilson’s urging. He publicly went on and on about fairness to the Germans and the League of Nations. Wilson stalled the negotiations for months claiming the French and British were to concerned with reparations. Yet ultimately Wilson used his political muscle to ratify a treaty that even our Italian and Japanese allies walked out on. The very treaty that left Germany in abject poverty causing millions to die from starvation. Some have argued this sowed the seeds of revenge amongst the German people.

Obama has widened the war to Pakistan and now one and one half million Pakistanis are refugees. Clinton and Bush II kept an embargo against Iraq in effect for over ten years causing the death of a million people(mostly children)from malnutrition and disease. We did the same thing to the Native Americans at internment camps at the end of the 19th century.

The Treaty of Versaille was an underlying cause of WW II, the cold war, Balkan wars, gulf wars and the civil wars throughout Africa. The treaty redrew the political map of the world annexing colonies for the victors. I fear we are on a similar path now. Most political leaders in my estimation are megalomaniacs or sociopaths. It should come to no ones surprise given this type of leadership, winning the peace is much harder than winning the war. Perhaps the Nobel committee should refrain from awarding military leaders with the “Peace Prize”.

Posted by eddieblack | Report as abusive

“I have seen college students receive college degrees who did not earn them, I even heard of a law and accounting student receiving their license that had not passed the BAR and CPA Exam”

Then they did not deserve their degrees or licences. And they are a small minority who devalue the efforts of the many people who earnt their qualifications through hard work.

“Sometimes you can give an award on potential and a direction or as a sign of support”

No. An award has always been for the recognition of something worthy. Not the belief that the recipient will do something worthy of the award at a later date.

Imagine if university degrees were handed out because of four years of study you have yet to do.

Imagine if you were given an Oscar for a movie you have not even made.

Imagine if you were given the medical nobel prize for a cure you have not yet invented, the physics nobel prize for a theory you have not yet discovered, or the literature nobel prize for a book you have not yet written.

No. There is no way that this situation can be salvaged or justified.

If you think Obama’s popularity and the opinions of Europe are important, then fine. But the nobel peace prize didn’t need to be sacrificed on an alter for their sake.

Posted by Anon86 | Report as abusive