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By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Obama's Undeserved Peace Prize

Uploaded: Oct 10, 2009
This is not about Obama.

The Nobel folks decided, rightly or wrongly, to send the message that the United States as a country is important, and the Obama leadership is welcomed, and the Bush leadership is rebuked in a major way.

The Obama White House was so surprised by this whole thing that I find it surprising the President could make a statement within hours.

Should he have declined the honor? Reasonable people can argue yes and no around that. For me, he described the prize as a call to action. A call to action cannot be argued, prize or not.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Peter, a resident of ,
on Oct 10, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Thank you Paul for your rational response.

Posted by Seth, a resident of ,
on Oct 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm

"For me, he described the prize as a call to action. A call to action cannot be argued, prize or not."

Can anybody explain this statement to me?

Posted by Roger, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think you should give prizes to people to INSPIRE them to do the things they need to do in order to earn the prize, but rather to people who have already DONE the things that were necessary to earn the prize.

I think it shows that there's one group more "in-the-tank" for Obama than the US media: the Norwegian Nobel Prize Selection committee.

Posted by robit noops, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 11:35 am

I think people need to stop bickering about what has been done, or what other people have done, or their opinions about everything, and take some action themselves. The people of this country are far too opinionated.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Paul, suddenly this is about what COUNTRY deserves the "prize"? C'mon. And about rebuking Bush? Geez..Um..he has been out of power since the Dem takeover in 2006, what little power was left to the Office of President nearly completely neutered after 11/4/08, and then completely out of any power at all for the last nearly 9 months.

I won't repeat what the other threads said out of not wanting to bore anyone, but I simply could not let go by without comment this attempt to redefine the meaning of this "prize" ( sorry, can't write it without the quotation marks).

No, it was all about hoping Obama would get straightjacketed into expanding Carter's foreign and domestic policies, ( the last US Pres to get this, not shockingly), both of which we continued to pay for over the next 30 years in terrorism, culminating in 9/11/09, and in the economic wildfire lit by Carter's Community Reinvestment Act ( which Obama worked for through ACORN as an Attorney).

Well, ok...so if these are the results that our country must bear in order to earn such an important "prize" to tell us how highly important we are now to the Nobel Committee, please, I will beg them, don't wish any more importance on us!

Posted by Paul, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I share Perspective's wish to forget that GW Bush was president, but we are stuck with his toxic legacy for at least a generation. I think the Nobel committee is recognizing Obama's efforts to erase its most egregious immedaite effects, and I concur with Paul L's surmise that the prize expresses an international desire to continue that course.

Significantly, I notice that Obama's neocon detractors on this forum carefully avoid mentioning the first two US presidents to win the Peace Prize: Teddy Roosevelt (that profound embarrassment to the Republican party, second only to Lincoln), and of course Woodrow Wilson, their archguru of international interventionism.

Posted by pat, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Willie Brown's humorous comments today ("What's Next for Obama -- Sainthood?") at Web Link

I voted for Obama, but so far he has been a disappointment. For a while I thought I was the only one who saw him as "The Speechifier." But I see columnists saying that he talks too much and does too little, e.g., Nancy Gibbs in Time: "By now there are surely more callouses on his lips than his hands." Web Link

Awarding Obama a prize for his words is a nice gesture, but I wish the committee had waited until he walked the talk.

Posted by sharon, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Teddy Roosevelt got the NPP for negotiating the Russian/ Japanese peace

Woodrow Wilson got it for ending the First World War.

It it chose Carter, an American ex president, who uses moral equivalence as a tool for making peace.

A better award for Obama at this point in his

"I've only been President Not George Bush for 9 months"?

Presidential message is an Oscar for his performance with a teleprompter.

A cautionary tale in Mikhail Gorbachev who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.
A year later, he was out of power and the Soviet Union had dissolved.

In 2010 the balance of power in House may change and the socialist experiment of Pelosi etc will be dissolved.

Posted by Paul, a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 5:27 pm

"I've only been President Not George Bush for 9 months"

That's more than sufficient. Obama would not have gotten the award had he followed President Gore.

"Presidential message is an Oscar for his performance with a teleprompter"

If that were true, Reagan would have won 8 oscars in a row,1981-1988. Actually, I always thought Reagan should have shared the Peace Prize with Gorbachev. Perhaps he was offered it, but declined fearing a withering backlash from Republicans.

Posted by Anon., a resident of ,
on Oct 11, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Since this is about Obama getting elected ... I think the Nobel committee should have given their Nobel Peace prize to the American people, and donated the money to the US treasury.

Posted by the prize meaning, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 5:53 am

Some people may think progress toward larger governments and progress toward socialist governments is progress toward peace.

Those are, in my opinion, the primary achievements (as opposed to hopes and efforts) that Obama has made.

Saying what foreign governments want to hear may be a good thing, but it's not a foreign policy achievement.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 7:14 am

Prize Meaning: Well said.

Paul: If we follow your logic, anyone elected after Bush should have gotten the Nobel Not-Bush prize. Or is it only anyone following Prize Meaning's definition of presidential progress? If that is the case, then it isn't really a not-Bush prize, but a not-pro life, liberty and individual responsibility prize.

When the NYT, you, and every other left-winger ( I say this because my side, along with the Founding Fatheres, is always called "right wing") actually WANT to proclaim award as defined as you have defined it, then I guess the prize really should just be renamed.

Why doesn't the NYT hold a re-naming contest, and let's just call it what it is?

Posted by NB, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 8:22 am

"Those are, in my opinion, the primary achievements (as opposed to hopes and efforts) that Obama has made."

There was also the little matter of rescuing the world economy from the GW collapse....

Posted by Paul, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 11:01 am

"Paul: If we follow your logic, anyone elected after Bush should have gotten the Nobel Not-Bush prize."

No. Neither Cheney nor Palin would likely have gotten it.

"I say this because my side, along with the Founding Fatheres, is always called "right wing""

Whatever you say, for yourself. But be careful what company you arrogate: The founding fathers were extreme lefties with radical notions: empire of laws not men, republic not kingdom, all men created equal. Jefferson even rewrote the gospels (horrors) to leave out the miracles. The right wingers of the day (called Tories) despised them almost as violently as our contemporary right wingers do Obama.

"Why doesn't the NYT hold a re-naming contest, and let's just call it what it is?"

Does the NYT have to always define your world for you? Where's that good old fashioned right wing initiative?

Posted by Perspective, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Slight foray into definitions:

Paul, I realize you don't want "the right" to be associated with the Founding Fathers, but you have to look at what the "Right Wing" advocates in our country, and what the Founding Fathers advocated.

I agree with you, in OTHER countries living under tyranny right now, the same principals our own Right Wing now advocates, and that were the foundational principles of this country, are considered "liberal". That is where the term "neoconservative" comes from, those of us who support individual freedom, including the freedom to accept one's own consequences, are the liberals of the 60s and 70s, before the traditional meaning of "liberal" got confused with meaning "trust government decisions over individual abilities", or "marxist" or "statist" or "socialist" or whatever you want to call it. The end result still is taking from one to punish or reward another, as decided by someone in government.

So, by definition, we, the real liberals of the 60s and 70s, broke off, and became "neoconservatives" recognizing that our original "left wing" home had gone full circle back into..whatever you want to call "government control of individuals".

The original meaning of liberal, getting government to butt out and stop stealing from people, stopping government from determining what people could and could not do, etc was what the Founding Fathers professed, and what our "Right Wing' professes in our modern era.

You have to remember that our entire country has shifted so hard to the left that our left wing now has come full circle, with every policy push resulting in loss of freedom for someone in our nation with a goal of equality of OUTCOME, not equality of OPPORTUNITY.
This is a fundamental difference in philosophy between the two sides, regardless of what you want to label it, but it does mean that whoever opposes this shift is now considered "right wing". Like so many other definitions in the last 20 years, it is upside down, but it is the language we use.

As for NYT, trust me, I don't give a flip, and neither do the vast majority of Americans, what the the NYT thinks. I thought it would be a good idea to simply encourage the news media of the left to re-name the award into one that is a real name, not a fake one. Me, I don't care if you call it "World's Best Dad" Award, it won't matter a whit to the vast majority of us. Most of us know it as a joke that occasionally isn't,by accident, and that is that. I just think it is hilarious that the biggest "big government" supporters are finally actually admitting it is a misnomer as well, and wish them luck with the renaming.

Posted by VoxPop, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Some posters to this thread qualify for the Nobel Prize for Most Convoluted Attempt at Logical Thought in Justifying Denial of Fact. The awards dinner is staged by the Pythons.

Posted by Paul, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Some perspective from Johnny Cash:

"Well, the one on the right was on the left
And the one in the middle was on the right
And the one on the left was in the middle
And the guy in the rear, said "hear, hear"."

Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of ,
on Oct 12, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Who cares? People who deserve a prize, don't need one.

I do think he should give the money to charity.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of ,
on Oct 13, 2009 at 1:56 am

When I heard that President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize my first reaction was "Oh boy, now I can rush home and maybe watch Glen Beck's head explode on national TV".

Didn't happen, but I get to log onto Palo Alto Online and laugh at "Obama Derangement Syndrome".

After just days earlier having to be subjected to the pathetic and despicable spectacle of conservatives clapping because the USA lost the Olympic Bid...oh wait because losing means "Obama Fails", then the world awards our President with the Nobel Prize. And the spasms continue!

For another perspective on this...

Web Link

Lots of people got the Nobel Peace Prize even though their inspirational efforts had so far borne no fruition, or even never materialized.

Bishop Desmond Tutu got it even before the apartheid system of South Africa was dismantled and replaced by the ANC taking power.

Former President Carter received it even though Begin later double crossed him and the peace efforts floundered.

In 1935 a German journalist was given the award because he symbolized opposition to the rising Nazi power...

Dissidents in Myamar and Iran have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their stance and efforts, even though "no real" achievement may be in evidence.

Woodrow Wilson was awarded the prize for his work in Versailles Treaty ending World War I, and in forming the League of Nations. But look how that turned out----Versailles only laid the foundation for World War II and the League floundered. But the Prize went for his efforts and goals.

History is full of "problematic" Nobel Peace awards. One was given to Henry Kissinger, a man better suited to sit in the dock of a War Crimes Trial.

Teddy Roosevelt was given a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating an end to hostilities between Japan and Russia. But any even cursory review of Teddy Roosevelt's many speeches exhorting war as a noble and invigorating endeavor should give wonder as to why he would ever get a "Peace" prize. (Though domestically Teddy Roosevelt did many great things, broke through many barriers...and when his own son Quentin died in WWI he was quite inconsolable for years after).

Throughout it's history the Nobel Prize has been awarded for people who try, whose efforts and words inspire, way in advance of the actual goals being accomplished. One may disagree with this all they want. But Obama receiving this award and honor does not break away from past award practice. People should stop pretending that it does.

To quote Obama..."..it's also been used to give momentum to a set of causes"

You may disagree with "the cause" whereby Bush/Cheney was replaced by Obama. You may not even have a hint of understanding of what Bush/Cheney did to our international standing and reputation, how out of control and downright crazy we seemed to the majority of the world (just look at video's of John Bolton ranting at the UN for instance). You may want Obama to fail and will go to any length in that quest, be it clapping when his efforts fail to win our country the Olympics, booing when our President is awarded the Nobel Prize as part of a tsunami of international support and appreciation, may embrace outright racism in the desperate quest to somehow vanquish Obama, may even entertain dreams of a military coup. But meanwhile the rest of us move on in support of President Obama's basic goals and the world now views our country in a favorable light again.

And President Obama accepted the award as "a call to action".

Meanwhile some consider international encouragement and hope for success for an American President is something to be ashamed of.

The American President just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

By any measure all Americans should be proud.

Posted by Jon S, a resident of ,
on Oct 13, 2009 at 10:00 am

According to an online dictionary, "underserve" means "To supply with insufficient services, especially social and health services."
How does that meaning work in the headline of this article? And how do the followup comments contribute to anything except spleen venting?

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Oct 13, 2009 at 11:28 am

Jon S--I thick thumbed the title, my intent was to use the word "undeserved," not "not underserved."

Posted by genzpremie, a resident of ,
on Oct 13, 2009 at 12:25 pm

So what? Good grief, we build too high the pedestal; too much nothing about nothing that changes to world!

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of ,
on Oct 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm

First it's again predictable how the intended headline language spin assumes something--that the Nobel Prize awarded to President Obama is somehow "underserved"--- which upon even a cursory deeper analysis is found to be off base.

But Paul may have done a literal Freudian slip...

"Under served" about fits the bill.

People should be "serving" gratitude and appreciation that we finally have a President who has a hefty abundance international standing, influence and clout. Especially so in light of the previous administration's despicable record.

Posted by Jethro, a resident of ,
on Oct 13, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Well, golly gee. If enough high-minded Palo Altans think Barry really earned it, then it must be so!

Posted by echidna, a resident of ,
on Oct 14, 2009 at 2:16 am

Obama has changed the attitude of the US to the rest of the world. GW gave gave the US "Freedom Fries" and was openly hostile to Europe (and most of the rest of the world), the US Obama leads is much more civilized. The award recognises the changes that have already happened, as well as encouraging future action.

I used to live in Palo Alto (and loved it), but was always slightly shocked at how little attention was paid to the rest of the world, even in such an open and intellectual community. The comments so far evaluate Obama from a domestic viewpoint, but the Nobel prize is not a domestic prize.

Be gracious, accept that even the first attempts at turning the very influential US around was considered by the Nobel committee to be worth the prize.

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of ,
on Oct 14, 2009 at 8:25 am

It will be interesting to see what the future holds. In 10 years, unless the right wing hit job agenda gets it's way (mirroring the abortion action), former President Obama will be introduced as "Nobel Prize Laureate and former President of the United States..."

Posted by YEH RIGHT, a resident of ,
on Oct 16, 2009 at 11:06 pm

Maby you deserve it..since in SURE YOU THINK YOU DO..Mr "Hoover"

Posted by yep, a resident of ,
on Oct 21, 2009 at 3:14 am

I think many of the above posters underestimate how frightening the prospect of a fascist state in the US is to the rest of the world -- the push for permanent Republican majority at any cost has not gone away, either -- and their understanding of just what Obama was up against to get elected and at least make for a chance that it won't happen. I have a colleague from Germany -- where growing up they had to study the speeches of Hitler line by line, and the colleague says many of the same tactics were used by neocons, and why can't people here see that?

It wasn't about Bush, it was about the neocon agenda that he perfectly embodied. Neocons are just like communists complaining that we just need to push for more perfect implementation of the ideology and everything will go from terrible to great. They're just the other end of the extreme. We may not see that here, but it's pretty clear from the outside.

Posted by Perspective, a resident of ,
on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:09 am

Yep..uh huh..yes, right.

The classical liberals ( the dreaded label "neo-con") clearly were and are as scary as Hitler in their beliefs and techniques. C'mon...you gotta be kidding...You truly believe that people who stand on the side of individual freedoms and individual rights would pull a Hitler? Geez. Europe's education is pretty scary if this is what they are producing. Did you and your friends study all the speeches of Stalin? Mao? Castro? Note any similarities? Did you know that Mao massacred more people than Hitler and Mussolini combined? Somehow Mao is never held up as a symbol of horror..think about why you think "Hitler" not "Mao" whenever you want such a symbol, and ask yourself why this is true? Examine your own brainwashing.

Not saying that Hitler was a good guy, don't get me wrong!! But the reflexive comparisons of all quote "right wing" to Hitler is absurd.

First, if you listen to Hitler's GOALS and the methods he wanted to use to get there, not just the "pretty speeches"..who/what party does he remind you of?

You have to learn that EVERY dictator wanna-be uses high sounding rhetoric in speeches, period. EVERY candidate and party sounds the same in its goals. Most humans want peace and prosperity, so of course speeches sound "the same". Read what Mao, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin all "said" in their speeches, and you will be shocked at how much you agree with. for their goals "Peace" "Prosperity" "Health Care for all" "No more poverty" "Our moral duty to..." Blah blah blah

Where the real fear comes into play is when there is a brainwashed public and "journalism" which has a propoganda template, combined with a government determined to convince you to "believe what I tell you, not what you see" mentality, mixed in with always standing on the same side as loss of individual liberty, ...be it in deciding which other governments to support, or which domestic policies to push.

This pattern has clearly been the tactic of the Democrat party in this country for over 30 years, and has now come back into full ascendency. You have not seen AS MUCH, please note, I said AS MUCH, coming from our right, or even the European right. Some, because ANY growth in government equals a loss of someone's individual amount of freedom.

If you don't like to read, tre to see the movie "Straight Talk", or the other one "Remains of the Day" to get a sense of true historical perspective. Compare to who says and does what today. Check out the list of Nobel Peace "Prize" nominees and recipients, and you will see why Obama was not overly thrilled with getting this "award". he knows what company he is in, for the most part. Don't be shocked if somebody nominates, let alone gives the award to, Chavez next year for his "Peace Work" in South America with Zelaya ( I say this with full disgust). Ask anyone, and I mean anyone, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, in Cuba, or anywhere south of our border, who the Dems remind them of right now, and see what they say.

Then ask yourself, would your life be better going back to the dreaded "neo-cons" who ruled in the 80s, and latter 90s and 2000s,( look up what a neo-con is, by the way..I doubt you know), or continuing along the path we are on right now, a la 70s, or currently Chavez and Zelaya? ( I have no doubt that Chavez is going to get a Nobel Peace Prize next year..you wait and see..if he succeeds in shoving Zelaya back into power over the will of the entire constitutionally elected representatives of Honduras).

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of ,
on Oct 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Being a counter culture hippie back then was probably just a way to get laid. And now such a rejected stance is used for street cred being a modern NeoCon.

But......My Sweet Neocon

You call yourself a Christian
I think that you're a hypocrite
You say you are a patriot
I think that you're a crock of shit

And listen now, the gasoline
I drink it every day
But it's getting very pricey
And who is going to pay

How come you're so wrong
My sweet neo con.... Yeah

It's liberty for all
'Cause democracy's our style
Unless you are against us
Then it's prison without trial

But one thing that is certain
Life is good at Haliburton
If you're really so astute
You should invest at Brown & Root.... Yeah

How come you're so wrong
My sweet neo con
If you turn out right
I'll eat my hat tonight

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah....

It's getting very scary
Yes, I'm frightened out of my wits
There's bombers in my bedroom
Yeah and it's giving me the shits

We must have lots more bases
To protect us from our foes
Who needs these foolish friendships
We're going it alone

How come you're so wrong
My sweet neo con
Where's the money gone
In the Pentagon

Yeah ha ha ha
Yeah, well, well

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...
Neo con

I suppose also supporters of a more "socialistic" model, where capitalism and socialism co-exist even, could wrap themselves as the most solid "conservatives" and reference tribal society. Spin being what it is.

Well if we are to get into a discussion of "does the left wing or right wing have more bloody hands"...

I watched a documentary (Ironwood Film) about North Korea a while back. It pretty much (IMO) accurately described the dismal and despicable situation there--and probably that is just the tip of what may later be revealed.

But one interesting aspect was that some of the anti-North Korean activists pointed out that their "natural allies" tended to be legislators who had a more conservative bent, that many on the left didn't seem interested in either exposing or countering the repression in North Korea.

Of course the reciprocal of this is when conservatives rant about Cuba, yet are all to eager to ignore, deny, or even celebrate, the huge body count across Latin America---all due to US trained and inspired death squads, CIA inspired coups, etc. Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, etc. The body count is about 100,000 in some of the smaller countries alone.
And in the above post we see support for the military coup in Honduras, probably a support which would embrace a return to death squad tactics of the 80's.

Whenever I hear people try to compare Hitler's crimes with those of Stalin or Mao's...it's usually a marker that person really wishes the USA and Britain had teamed up with Germany against the USSR, etc. Like that Command and Conquer video game historic revision.

What is further interesting is that, while the poster alluding to GW Bush bringing on a fascist state in the USA may be a bit hyperbolic,......one can back away from the fascist label a bit and still find plenty of room for the world to have been very concerned and threatened by the actions of Bush/Cheney. Just bathe in the light of Bolton ranting.....

Look at the juxtaposition! Even if Bush was a fascist leader on the prowl, or had potential for such, this isn't nearly as bad as Stalin or Mao. And Stalin or Mao is 1) what we've had somewhat with 30 years of the Democrats (?) and 2) Obama is looking to be another Stalin of sorts.

And meanwhile we now have "The Oathers", using the 2nd Amendment hysteria to get people pledging to "resist".

I sometimes think that we are actually headed for another Civil War. We have a modern day Lincoln of sorts---wants to preserve the union ("bi-partisanship") but doesn't realize that his very election has sent the opponents into a frenzy. One now seeming to be led by South Carolina politicians just as in the past (Calhoun from SC caned Thaddeus Stevens and SC first to secede). In retrospect Lincoln seemed to know exactly what he was doing and played it well, with the slaveowners finally being suppressed. I can only hope President Obama is acting in likewise fashion, with the big picture in mind.

The right wing seems to be in a frenzy to reverse the popular swing of things....denying voter rights via attacks on ACORN, bringing up secession in Texas, bringing up a military coup as an option in an established old school Republican magazine, calling reasonable efforts to step back from the brink of financial plutocracy as "Statism" in an effort to envelope years of anti-gov. spin. And now the profoundly discredited "NeoCons" can try to wrap themselves in some type of Counter Culture rebelliousness.

Before it settles into the solid camps I predict many of the "Tea Baggers" may switch as their economic interests aren't being served by those they support now. And that many liberal Palo Altan types will forgo liberalism (if it means paying a living wage to city workers for instance as opposed to pocketing more and hiring from Home Depot parking lot).

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