A Wicked and Ignorant Award

“It is absurd and it is embarrassing. It would even be infuriating if it were not such a declaration of emptiness. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has embarrassed itself and cheapened a great award that had real meaning. It was a good thing, the Nobel Peace Prize. Every year the giving of it was a matter of note throughout the world, almost a matter of state. It was serious. It mattered that it was given to a woman like Mother Teresa in 1979. …

Her life was heroic, epic, and when she was given the Nobel Peace Prize, it was as if the world were saying, ‘You are the best we have. You are living a life that should be emulated.’ …

Some Peace Prizes have been more roughly political, or had a political edge, and were of course debatable. … It was always absurd that Ronald Reagan, whose political project led to the end of the gulag and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and who gambled his personal standing in the world for a system that would protect the common man from annihilation in a nuclear missile attack, could not win it. But nobody wept over it, and for one reason: because everyone, every sentient adult who cared to know about such things, knew that the Nobel Peace Prize is, when awarded to a political figure, a great and prestigious award given by liberals to liberals. NCNA — no conservatives need apply. This is the way of the world, and so what? Life isn’t for prizes. Yet even within that context, the giving of the peace prize to President Obama is absurd. He doesn’t have a body of work; he’s a young man; he’s been president less than nine months. He hopes to accomplish much, and so far — nine months! — has accomplished little. Is this a life of heroic self-denial, of the sacrifice of self for something greater, of huge and historic consequence, of sustained vision? No it’s not. Is this a life marked by a vivid and calculable contribution to the peace of the world? No, it’s not. This is an award for not being George W. Bush. This is an award for not making the world nervous. This is an award for sharing the basic political sentiments and assumptions of the members of the committee. It is for what Barack Obama may do, not what he has done. He hasn’t done anything. In one mindless stroke, the committee has rendered the Nobel Peace Prize a laughingstock.” –columnist Peggy Noonan

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