President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today. Really?
What did Obama do to win such a prestigious award?
Not much. Obama has been in office only nine months, which is barely enough time for him to start to put his mark on the presidency.
We, however, are not alone in being puzzled. The news of Obama's selection was greeted by an audible gasp by the audience in Oslo, Norway, where the announcement was made this morning.
The president's top advisers, too, were surprised.
Nobody saw this coming. Obama had been president less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline.
Yes, Obama does seem to be working earnestly toward world peace, but this award hasn't become important because it rewards good intentions. It's been about -- as it should be -- getting results. About truly making a difference.
This is why President Carter won the prize in 2002 for what presenters cited as decades of work seeking peaceful solutions and promoting social and economic justice. Nelson Mandela was honored in 1993 for his role in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa. Mikhail Gorbachev won in 1990 for helping to bring an end to the Cold War.
The selection of Obama cheapens the award.
Even worse, it taints the award with politics.
The New York Times called this award to Obama a rebuke to the George W. Bush's foreign policies, some of which the current president has sought to overturn.
"Obama made repairing the fractured relations between the United States and the rest of the world a major theme of his campaign for the presidency. Since taking office as president he has pursued a range of policies intended to fulfill that goal. He has vowed to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, as he did in a speech in Prague earlier this year; reached out to the Muslim world, delivering a major speech in Cairo in June; and sought to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians," The New York Times wrote today.
This is hardly a list of great successes, only good intentions and a good start.
When a president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize in his first year on the job, it sets the world's expectations for his goals and policies far too high.
The Nobel Committee did Obama no favors in giving him this award.