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president barack obama + searching for change = nobel peace prize (winner)

October 9, 2009

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President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize is quickly turning from a singular honor into a gold-medal headache, as even supporters call it premature and critics say it proves he’s a darling of the international elite.

Obama himself sought to put some distance between himself and the award, saying, “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but a recognition of the role of American leadership” in the world.

“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures” who won in the past, Obama said at the White House. “I will accept this award as a call to action, a call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”

And seemingly mindful of the political risks involved, he seemed to go out of his way to puncture the solemnity of the moment, joking that it was also a good day because it’s his dog Bo’s birthday.

Ahead of Obama’s remarks, some Democrats argued that the Nobel Peace Prize validated Obama’s foreign policy, to the extent it’s been on display in the first nine months of his administration. But conservatives like Rush Limbaugh blasted the award as a not-so-subtle signal from the Nobel committee that they want America “neutered.”

“With this ‘award’ the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States,” Limbaugh.

For most winners, the Peace Prize is a recognition of a unique accomplishments for mankind. But for Obama the unexpected award could be more of a political albatross, especially at home.

At a time when Obama faces critical choices on Afghanistan, Guantanamo and other sensitive national security issues, the Nobel Committee’s action revives Republican arguments from last year’s presidential campaign that Obama is beholden to international elites looking for a dramatic break from the policies of President George W. Bush.

It could also remind many of one of Hillary Clinton’s primary critiques of Obama during last year’s presidential race: that he is praised more for his rhetoric than his actions, more for his global celebrity than any hard-and-fast accomplishments.

The official statement from the Nobel Committee praised Obama for his “efforts to strengthen international diplomacy” and saluted his announced goal of a nuclear-free world. However, the committee pointed to no concrete achievement of his fledgling presidency.

Even devoted supporters of Obama expressed amazement and a sentiment that the award was premature for a president who cannot yet point to any notable triumphs in the arena of foreign affairs — that the whole thing seemed a bit premature, like a fan letter from the European elite to the notion of Obama as a man of peace rather than a concrete recognition of anything in particular he’s achieved.

“At this point, Barack Obama is like the kid who gets a Porsche for his sixteenth birthday. It’s wonderful but where can you go from there?” William Jelani Cobb, Professor of History, Spelman College said earlier.

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