'You are only a man…'
By John D. Turner
15 Oct 2009

Who says you can’t get something for nothing? Apparently Barack Obama can. After just nine months in office, Barack Obama is the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

In a candid statement the same day, Mr. Obama told reporters that “he wasn’t sure he had done enough to earn the award or deserved to be in the same company of the “transformative figures who had won it before him.” Really? How perceptive!

Of course, some of those “transformative figures” who have won it before him include such luminaries of peace as Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and my all time favorite, Yassir Arafat. Maybe the prize isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in the first place.

Now of course, he feels he has to “live up” to expectations, claiming that “the prize has been used as a means to provide momentum.” I guess that is sort of like when President Carter signed the Panama Canal treaty that gave the canal back to Panama – before it was officially approved by Congress, and then stated that since he had already signed it, the Congress had to pass it.

Now that he has won the prize, we need to help him do something to deserve it.

And what sort of “momentum” is he looking for? Well, he has already stated that he is going to unilaterally cut our nuclear arsenal, looking forward to the day when there will be no more nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. This at a time where North Korea is building nukes, Pakistan is building nukes, India is building nukes, Russia is fielding new missiles and warheads, Iran is developing nukes as fast as they can, and Hugo Chavez has announce he too wants to join the party; for peaceful purposes only of course.

He is also trying to cut the feet out from under Israel. One could get the idea, from what he has said and done, that he just might feel that peace in the Middle East is achievable – if Israel is out of the picture. That is certainly the line that the Palestinian Authority and Iran take. If I were Israel, I wouldn’t trust him any farther than I could throw him. Even if he doesn’t out and out want Israel to disappear, his policies are pushing events in that direction.

He is also the man who refused to condemn human rights abuses by Iran’s leaders against their citizens in recent protests. Instead, he wants to open talks with them. He has also refused to speak out against human rights abuses in China, and recently refused the meet with the Dalai Lama during his visit here; the first U.S. President to do so.

Then we have this quote from our new Nobel Laureate: “This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration, it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world.” Really? I thought the prize said “Barack Obama”, not “the Obama Administration”, or “the people of the world.” How can an award, given to an individual, not be about the individual?

In addition to the trophy and the t-shirt, Obama will receive $1.4 million. Note that Mr. Obama will receive this money, not his administration, or the people of the world. He says he will give the money to “charity”, but has not specified which charity or charities. My suggestion would be for the media to follow up on this in a month or so. My suspicion is that they will take him at his word, and let it go at that. It’s easy to say you are going to give it to charity, but $1.4 million is a lot of dough, and it would be easy for some of it to stick to your fingers.

After all, they do say that charity begins at home.

Of course, it’s his money. He doesn’t have to give any of it away if he doesn’t want to. Still, since he said he was going to do so, would it do any harm to see if he is a man of his word? Might it not be a nice thing to know about a man who has been promising us all kinds of stuff over the past year or so?

And if he does give it away, it would be interesting to see where it goes. Who you give money to says a lot about you.

Perhaps Acorn is in for a cut; they have lost federal funding after all, and Obama was a community organizer before he became the president.

Apparently, the decision to award the prize to the president was unanimous, according to Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. Hmmm. I know that sometimes, when we do quarterly awards here at work, only a single person gets put up for a particular category, such as “Civilian of the Quarter.” Of course, that person “wins” unanimously. Could it be that no one else was put in for the prize?

Not so, the Nobel Peace prize. According to reports, this year saw a record 205 people put up for the award. So he didn’t win because he was the only choice. And unanimity, while not required, is a desired goal for the Nobel committee, so that too really is no surprise. Just the selection.

The President wasn’t the only one surprised. According to George Stephanopoulos (ABC News), one key White House aide remarked, when told of the news, “It’s not April 1st, is it?”

Reportedly, when the announcement was made by the Nobel committee, even the people in the room “gasped in surprise.” And perhaps the president was right. Perhaps the prize was awarded to provide him “momentum.” Witness this quote from Thorbjorn Jagland, the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee: “If you look at the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, we have on many occasions tried to enhance what many personalities is [are] trying to do.”

As is pointed out by many, in his first nine months in office, President Obama has many “firsts” in the international arena; first U.S. president to address the United Nations General Assembly, first president to try and sell a U.S. city to the International Olympic committee. He also spoke at the G-20 meeting, has been a vocal proponent in trying to get the international community to act on climate change, and has “reached out” to the Muslim world, delivering a speech in Cairo. He has also “met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, trying to accelerate the process of bringing peace to the Middle East.”

That is all well and good. However, the deadline for nominations for the prize is 1 February; a bare two weeks after Mr. Obama’s inauguration. All the things mentioned in the paragraph above remained in the future for him. He had, at that time, done none of them. One has to wonder, exactly what a two week old president, former junior senator from Illinois, with only four years in the Senate under his belt (and two of those spent campaigning for president non-stop) could possibly have done to get himself nominated for such a prestigious award?

Is it possible that someone in the Obama administration has a time machine; that they were able to flash forward, perhaps years, to anticipate what the President would do in the future?

And who nominated him in the first place? How did the nomination package get to the Nobel committee? When actually was it submitted? I have heard nothing on this. I haven’t even heard these questions raised in the mainstream media.

Even Michael Moore, a liberal “documentary” film maker who makes me want to retch, was critical of the announcement, as the title of his article, “Congratulations President Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize – Now Please Earn it!”, posted on 9 October 2009, clearly states. Had someone told me that I and Michael Moore would be in agreement about anything, I would have laughed in their face. And truly, the things Mr. Moore is upset about are not the same things I am upset about; we are poles apart. About the only thing we do have in agreement is the fact that President Obama has won the prize without actually doing anything to deserve the accolade.

It does point to the fact however, that those on the left are just as upset with him as those on the right; just about different things. The right is upset at what he is doing; the left is upset at what he hasn’t done yet.

And they don’t think he has done anything to deserve it yet either.

Perhaps Lech Walesa, the former President of Poland, a man who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for standing up to the Soviet Union as a co-founder of the Solidarity trade union, ultimately leading to freedom for his country, put it best; “So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far. He is still at an early stage.”

I have heard it said that back in Roman times, when a triumphal ceremony was given to a notable, an imperator, he had a slave behind him in his chariot, holding a golden wreath above his head and whispering in his ear "Respica te, hominem te memento" (look behind you, remember, you are only a man.)

Whether true or not it is a good story. Roman Triumphs were significantly gaudy to turn any man’s head. Such events featured, among other diversions:

Perhaps a man who’s face has been on Time magazine 17 times already this year, whose face decorates untold numbers of magazines each week (I saw him on the cover of Men’s Fitness last week), one whose very presence makes women swoon, and who now is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize without even doing anything to deserve the award, perhaps such a man too needs someone behind him whispering “look behind you and remember, you are only a man; remember, you are only a man.”