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Reaction to Obama's Nobel Peace Prize mixed

October 9, 2009 |  9:45 am

Obamapeacey What a difference a week makes. Last Friday, despite pleas by Oprah and the Obamas, an Olympics that was (in many U.S. citizens' minds) rightfully ours was awarded to the second-largest city of the largest country in South America, a continent that has never had the glory of hosting an Olympiad. A nation gasped while those in the right-leaning portion of the blogosphere chuckled.

A week later President Obama woke up to his daughters' informing him that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. A nation gasped. Again.

While the reaction from the conservative blogs and the right-wing commentators was mostly predictable, liberal blog Talk Left seemed to agree with the sentiment that the award comes undeserved, and further, should be politely rejected by Obama, "Just because the Nobel Committee wants to make fools of themselves, Obama should not have to play along. He should turn it down."

Other lefty bloggers, though, saw some method in the perceived madness. Glenn Greenwald of Salon said that when he first read today's news he thought those jokers at the Onion had hacked into CNN.com. But then he realized that perhaps Obama has actually created the foundations of change in his first eight months of his presidency:

Obama has changed the tone America uses to speak to the world generally and the Muslim world specifically. His speech in Cairo, his first-week interview on al-Arabiya, and the extraordinarily conciliatory holiday video he sent to Iran are all substantial illustrations of that. His willingness to sit down and negotiate with Iran -- rather than threaten and berate them -- has already produced tangible results.

When the president spoke to the media this morning he too expressed surprise with the honor and explained that he was humbled with the nod.

John McCain, once again proving that he is still out of touch with his party, told CNN, "I think all of us were surprised at the decision. But I think Americans are always pleased when their president is recognized by something on this order."

Clearly McCain hadn't read RedState.com, which immediately went to the race card when explaining how the Nobel could go to the president. "I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota for it," Red State blogger Erik Erickson wrote, "but that is the only thing I can think of for this news."

Perhaps Erickson hadn't yet read the explanation from Thorbjoern Jagland, the chairman of the Peace Prize committee, who never once mentioned the fact that Obama is half black. "It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve. It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done." Archbishop Desmond Tutu echoed that sentiment, "It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama's message of hope."

Meanwhile, 1983 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Lech Walesa agreed with both sides. "Who, Obama?" Walesa asked reporters in Poland. "So fast? Too fast -- he hasn't had the time to do anything yet." Later he added "for the time being Obama's just making proposals. But sometimes the Nobel committee awards the prize to encourage responsible action."

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: President Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House after learning he had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

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