Nobel for Obama leaves media puzzled

Washington : President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize win has evoked mixed reactions in the US with the media largely puzzled over the surprise pick and some comments sharply divided along party lines.

The Washington Post called it “an odd Nobel Peace Prize that almost makes you embarrassed for the honouree”.

“In blessing President Obama, the Nobel Committee intended to boost what it called his ‘extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.’ A more suitable time for the prize would have been after those efforts had borne some fruit,” it said in an editorial.

The leading US business magazine Forbes in a commentary wondered: “Is the Nobel Peace Prize an award or a gesture?

“A Nobel Peace Prize given to President Obama cannot, for all that I wish him well, qualify as an award,” wrote a commentator.

“He made a lovely speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, and he was behind the United Nations Security Council’s summit on nuclear weapons. But in the nine months the man has been in office, these things have yet to bear fruit. That’s no knock on Obama – there just hasn’t been time,” the comment pointed out.

The Wall Street Journal noted the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama “was greeted with astonishment as much as any other emotion, even among many of his admirers”.

“Our own reaction is bemusement at the Norwegian decision to offer what amounts to the world’s first futures prize in diplomacy, with the Nobel Committee anticipating the heroic concessions that it believes Obama will make to secure treaties that will produce a new era of global serenity,” it said.

The New York Times appeared to differ. “Certainly, the prize is a (barely) implicit condemnation of (George W.) Bush’s presidency,” it said.

“But countering the ill will Bush created around the world is one of Obama’s great achievements in less than nine months in office. Obama’s willingness to respect and work with other nations is another,” the Times said.

Among politicians, former Democratic president Jimmy Carter and former Democratic vice president Al Gore called Obama’s win “extremely well deserved” and an honour for the country.

Republican Senator John McCain, Obama’s rival for the presidency, too was all praise. McCain told CNN that despite the surprise of the decision, Americans are “always pleased” when their president is recognised.

But the chairman of the US Republican Party, Michael Steele, said Obama is undeserving of such recognition.

It’s “unfortunate” that the president’s “star power” outshined advocates who he said have made real achievements toward peace and human rights, he said adding, Americans are asking what the president has actually accomplished.

Some conservative commentators reacted by saying the Nobel Committee has turned itself into a joke and that the president has not done enough to earn the award.

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