I previewed this post a bit earlier, so here we go: how I feel about the whole “debate” over President Barack Obama receiving the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
When I first heard the news, I didn’t expect this level of controversy. A good friend from college (and another die-hard Democrat and Obama supporter) sent me a text message with the good news early this morning, and while I was pleasantly surprised, I didn’t think much about the issue. I didn’t know why Obama received the award, exactly, but considering his work reaching out the international community, it made sense.
Then, I fully woke up and turned on my computer. Now, I have a few thoughts concerning all the criticism leveraged against the decision and the president. First of all, Obama is the first sitting US president to receive the award since Woodrow Wilson in 1919. The only other American presidents to receive a Nobel Peace Prize has been Theodore Roosevelt and Jimmy Carter. Before today, there was a general consensus that the Nobel Peace Prize is highly respected and to receieve it is generally considered an honor worldwide. The award goes to those who have worked to promote peace and understanding across the globe, and who are recognized for inspiring citizens of all nations. Suffice it to say, these aren’t the bad guys.
To dislike President Obama for his politics is understandable: it’s politics as usual in this country. But you know, I can deal with Republicans pissed off over healthcare or the war in Afghanistan. What angers me is the way politics has superseded all notions of decency and common sense. It doesn’t matter which issue is at hand; the goal of both Republicans and Democrats is to tear down the opposing party in the hopes of making themselves look better for the next election. Why can’t we pass decent healthcare reform? Because Jim DeMint has admitted that Republicans will block any progress in the hopes that it will “break” the president. When Obama’s attempt to woo the Olympic committee to Chicago failed, Republicans were actually HAPPY about it because it made Obama look bad. Republicans were cheering AGAINST their own country in the Olympic bid, for the sake of politics.
And now this. The fact a sitting American president received the Nobel Peace Prize is a great honor, not only for Obama but for this country. It’s a sign that the international community once again reveres us as a major player in world diplomacy. Our presence and opinion is respected once again. We are no longer warmongers, but peacemakers. We are welcomed at the bargaining table, instead of scorned. True, Obama has barely been in office a full year. But he has been working toward changing the tone of American diplomacy for far longer. He built his campaign around it, and his autobiography has inspired millions across the globe. His diplomacy consists of rational discourse, not chauvinistic bullying. He has reached out to those painted as this country’s “enemy,” and changed the way the world sees America and its diplomatic missions.
But Republicans can’t leave this alone. Still bitter over the man’s popularity, they have continued blindly in their quest to tear the man down, whatever it takes. And if that means framing a “peace” prize as a bad thing, then so be it. They have capitalized on America’s innate xenophobia–after 8 years of Bush, we’re uncomfortable with our President’s international popularity–and are using that selfish mentality to marr what should be a momentous day for this nation. As in politics, they don’t care about the good of the nation. Republicans just despise the fact that their political opponent is being recognized for his achievements, even if they’re well-deserved. To take this away from President Obama would be selfish and entirely innappropriate, and history won’t look too fondly on his harshest critics (“I didn’t know there was an affirmative action quota with the award”). To put petty, partisan politics ahead of national interests is a disgusting game that’s gone too far. For shame.