Partisan Politics = Misdirected Criticism

I am delighted to introduce a new contributor to Trading Eights, Sarah Kashubski. She would have joined us earlier, but she was hard at work in Washington, D.C., an experience that will prove valuable in her writings on this blog. In this first post, she adds another facet to the Nobel Peace Prize debate. I gave a complementary view of the issue a few days ago here, and I also encourage you to check out my editors’ opinions here and here. I hope you enjoy Sarah’s insights as much as I do. — AWO

by Sarah Kashubski

I realize that many believe President Obama’s recent Nobel Peace Prize to be a joke and best and a sham at worst. All the same, the man didn’t campaign for the prize. The New York Times reported that it even caught the White House off guard, with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel saying, “There has been no discussion, nothing at all.” But what was the president supposed to do? Tell the committee, “Thanks, but no thanks?”  

Apparently, that’s how David Brooks of the New York Times feels, telling Michele Norris on NPR, “I thought frankly, he should’ve turned it down.” What good would this have done? Insulted the Nobel committee? I’m willing to bet that he would have gotten more bad press for turning it down, than graciously accepting the prize with a humble, “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,” as he did.

Meanwhile, the President of the Nobel committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, is working on justifying his committee’s choice to the rest of the world, comparing it to the prize of Willy Brandt while he was chancellor of West Germany. “Brandt hadn’t achieved much when he got the prize, but a process had started that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall.” He went on to say, “The same thing is true of the prize to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, for launching perestroika. One can say that Barack Obama is trying to change the world, just as those two personalities changed Europe.”

Whether or not the prize is justified, give Obama a break. The man did not campaign for it. Did this announcement potentially seriously damage the respectability of the Nobel Peace Prize? Of course. But Obama shouldn’t be penalized for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Criticize the committee, not him.