But to give Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize because they want to "promote what he stands for" seems premature, with the unfortunate effect of minimizing the global importance of the award.
This article in Huffington Post said the committee "praised his pledges to reduce the world stock of nuclear arms, ease American conflicts with Muslim nations, and strengthen the U.S. role in combating climate change." I'm sorry to sound like a nabob of negativity here, but come on. Anyone can make pledges--but shouldn't the Prize be given to someone who has actually done more than make pretty promises?
Previous winners include former president Jimmy Carter, Doctors Without Borders, Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, and Mother Teresa--all of whom worked for years on issues of peace and social justice, with measurable, admirable results.
Obama took office less than two weeks before the nomination deadline, which casts a further shadow on the politics of the Prize. Predictably, Repubs have come down hard on the decision, some hilariously.
Those who are scornful, angry and/or cynical about Obama getting the top peace prize include Rush Limbaugh, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, former Polish President Lech Walesa, Hamas, the Taliban, William Kristol, pretty much everyone else at the Washington Post as well, and former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson.
Those happy and supportive about Obama receiving the award include John McCain, Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Al Gore, and Afghani President Hamid Karzai.
I do like Obama's acceptance speech, which is appropriately humble and gracious. He said,
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.
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize, men and women who have inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.
OK, I can live with affirmation and momentum. I wish they would have waited a year or two or three, to see what the outcomes will be; but in the meantime, I am proud and relieved that we have a leader who inspires hope and respect, and is reshaping the image of the United States around the world.
It's a good feeling, for once.