The prize seems to be more for Obama's promise than for his performance. Work on the president's ambitious agenda, both at home and abroad, is barely underway, much less finished. He has no standout moment of victory that would seem to warrant a verdict as sweeping as that issued by the Nobel committee.
Like most presidents in their first year, Obama's scorecard so far is largely an "incomplete," if he's being graded.
He banned torture and other extreme interrogation techniques for terrorists. But he also promised to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a source of much distaste for the U.S. around the world, a task with difficulties that have Obama headed to miss his own January 2010 deadline.
He said he would end the Iraq war. But he has been slow to bring the troops home and the real end of the U.S. military presence there won't come until at least 2012, and that's only if both the U.S. and Iraq stick to their current agreement about American troop withdrawals. Meantime, he's running a second war in the Muslim world, in Afghanistan — and is seriously considering ramping that one up.
He has pushed for new efforts to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But he's received little cooperation from the two sides.
If you read the whole thing, you'll see that Jennifer Loven is still rather complimentary to Obama; and it's true that the Nobel Committee's decision really isn't his fault. Consider this, from Rod Dreher at Crunchy Cons:
I'll make the obvious point, which is that President Obama has done nothing to foster peace in the womb, and his policies may increase the violent deaths of unborn humans. But it's not like the Nobel Committee would be likely to care about that.
Understand that I do not in any way fault President Obama for the Nobel committee's decision to award him the Nobel Peace prize today. I'm sure nobody was more shocked than he by the news. It is absurd, though, that after less than a year in office, a year in which he hasn't accomplished much of anything on the international front (does any president in their first year?), Obama would win the Peace prize over human rights activists, environmental campaigners, and others. Was there really no other man or woman on the planet who did more for the cause of peace this past year than the U.S. president? Really?
The Nobel committee has awarded Obama its Peace prize for the grand achievement of not being George W. Bush. I don't see any other way to explain this decision. Again, it doesn't reflect poorly on Obama, but rather on the Nobel committee, which looks petty and political. On the other hand, none of us are George W. Bush either, so maybe we can dare to dream that the Norwegians will gift us with the Nobel Peace prize next year. Personally, I would use the prize money to foster understanding between peoples, and to buy silken slankets for the whole family. Then again, with the Nobel having now awarded its third Peace prize to a top U.S. Democratic politician in seven years, maybe John Edwards has something to look forward to, for once.
Aside from that, though, I think this piece of errant tomfoolery on the part of the Nobel Committee calls for, not sober analysis and heavy commentary, but some errant tomfoolery in reply. So, without further ado:
The First Nobel
The first Nobel
That Obama did win
Caused the media pundits a lot of chagrin
Sure, they liked the guy--
They voted him in,
But explaining this prize? They couldn't begin.
"How could he win--we can't even tell,
"Great! Now the right wing will really raise hell."
They looked out
Across the sea
And questioned the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
"How could you guys
"Give Obama this thing?
"What's the air like in Oslo? What were you smoking?"
"Obama's a great guy--we all wish him well.
"But this prize? Why? C'mon, you can tell."
They waited near
Their trusty cell-phones
For an answer to come from some far-off time zones
Then from afar
(From far-off Norway)
Several voices were raised, and they started to say
"Cause he's The One and we're under his spell,
"Hey--Yes we can! Now so long, and farewell."
And glumly, all
Of the press corps' elite
Had to hang up their phones and admit to defeat.
It didn't make sense,
No, not this time,
When there wasn't a reason and barely a rhyme:
"To pretend he deserves it would be a hard sell.
"It could only be worse if they'd honored Michelle."