We on award tour with Obama my man

Nick Baker

On Friday morning, President Barack Obama awoke when his press secretary handed him a telephone.

It was Friday afternoon when I got off work, and a coworker of mine said off-handedly, “So, you hear that Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize?”

I would not believe him until I had the chance to see it for myself.

And sure enough, Barack Obama had indeed won the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the words of my generally liberal mother whom I told that night, “That’s just ludicrous.”

The committee gave him the award for his efforts at dialogue.

For real? Efforts at dialogue?

Why not do something like recognize the Armenian Genocide as you once said you would, Mr. President? Even Woodrow Wilson, who won the award in 1919, recognized that series of events. On your Web site you have a statement (written in 2008) on your recognition of the genocide, so get the United States to formally recognize it.

It is easy to say it when you are a senator. But when you are president and you want to keep Turkey happy so they do not restrict airspace or ground routes while you conduct a war, it apparently is a little inconvenient.

It is not the first time the handing out of this award has been botched. It has been given to candidates less deserving than Obama, like when it was awarded to Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres for opening up channels to bring about peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine (because, yeah, that worked).

It is fitting that a “peace” prize has been handed out to only three sitting U.S. presidents. Theodore Roosevelt (that would be Teddy Roosevelt, the Rough Riding career soldier who once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”) won the award in 1906 for helping negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War and noted white supremacist and president behind such repressive acts as the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1919, Woodrow Wilson.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Obama’s winning the award “America’s return to the hearts of the world’s peoples.”

Apparently this newly found love of the American Way has come in the form of adopting our preemptive strike approach to global politics.

All the people who never gave politics a passing thought but decided that “Change” and “Hope” were all this country needed will undoubtedly point to this as one of the achievements of the Obama administration.

This just in: “Obama” is not a political view. And giving him a gold plaque does not mean “change” is forthcoming. But hey, you have to give people something to “hope” for.

It appears as though this is nothing more than a plea to Obama by the Western European, “globally-minded” community (which is so pumped to have anyone not named “Bush” running the U.S. that they would just toss out the award to him for being him) to pull out of Iraq, to not follow through with the troops surge in Afghanistan, to not invade Iran or some other point of contention.

Obama being this year’s recipient only hurts the legitimacy of this award, and the Nobel Committee does not need anything damaging the legitimacy of a group that would not even give it to Mahatma freaking Gandhi, who was nominated five times.

It is an award that has been given to the likes of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

Obama himself seemed surprised to be included in those ranks.

“Let me be clear. 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,” Obama said. “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize.”

Right, true.

Nick Baker is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]