Why Obama? Why Now? For What?

These are the questions that pretty much everyone has been asking — in tones ranging from the pleased but perplexed to the pissed-off to the rude and hostile to the outright contemptuous — since early yesterday morning, when the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced to the world that the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is Pres. Barack Obama.

Josh Marshall thinks at least part of the answer might lie in a deeper truth lurking behind a flippantly tossed-off joke line:

It’s not the accustomed stance of a writer or blogger. But this one does have me at something of a loss for words. I notice the condemnation of the Taliban, the edged snark of the superciliati. But I also see Ana Marie Cox’s first-off Twitter: “Apparently Nobel prizes now being awarded to anyone who is not George Bush.” And while less than generous, I think she’s on to the root of the matter. But perhaps not precisely in the way she thinks.

This is an odd award. You’d expect it to come later in Obama’s presidency and tied to some particular event or accomplishment. But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the ‘hyper-power’ as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it’s a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was ‘normal history’ rather than dark aberration.

I think that’s a pretty decent explanation.

3 Responses to “Why Obama? Why Now? For What?”

  1. EireDuck says:

    I still think it’s way too early. By this logic, we’d have to award Bush something for finding WMD’s, just because he said he would!

    Look at where this precedent would lead us:

  2. It’s become a prize for Liberals by Liberals. No Conservative I can think of has ever won, nor those of great fame (Ghandi/MLK) who sacraficed themselves for peace. Instead a bunch of faux peaceniks like Carter, Obama, Arafat, Al Gore etc. have won the prize.

    Not Obamba’s fault here, the Nobel Committee has denigrated itself …

  3. It appears to me that most of the people criticizing the Nobel Prize Committe for awarding the Peace prize to Barack Obama are people who don’t really buy into the whole concept of peace. These are people–mainly on the right but also on the left–who view the world in dialectical terms, and to whom it is anathema to try to find common ground with one’s adversaries. They have never understood what Barack Obama has been talking about for more than two years, when he says he wants to achieve a new kind of politics, and when he says he wants to unify America rather than seek to divide it. To the extent they have understood what Obama has been talking about, they have never agreed with it.


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