Friday, October 09, 2009

This was more of a wake-up call than the alarm on my cell phone this morning, I'll tell you that.

OSLO – President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.

The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president....

The Nobel committee praised Obama's creation of "a new climate in international politics" and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage. The plaudit appeared to be a slap at President George W. Bush from a committee that harshly criticized Obama's predecessor for resorting to largely unilateral military action in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Rather than recognizing concrete achievement, the 2009 prize appeared intended to support initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee said. "In the past year Obama has been a key person for important initiatives in the U.N. for nuclear disarmament and to set a completely new agenda for the Muslim world and East-West relations."

He added that the committee endorsed "Obama's appeal that 'Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.'"

Mazel tov to him.

I wish I could rejoice in this more. I just wish more people in our own country felt this way. It simply seems that the people who would have us go trotting back to some idealized Middle Age in which everyone is a heterosexual Republican have been yelling pretty loudly as of late and the media has been letting them do it without much digging into how wrong they are factually and how backward they are socially (bless Saints defensive cap'n Fujita for having the cojones to call these "heterophobes" out and to really think of the kids in the process. Makes me even prouder to be a Saints fan.)

As it is, next week the president is visiting New Orleans for the first time since his campaign ...and he still needs to give us something more than the audacity of hope in this forgotten corner of Louisiana that overwhelmingly elected him to office. Just because we are located in a red state doesn't mean we have to go to the same hell our state legislators seem to want to drag us to.

I've had a few reasons thrown out to me concerning why it's taken nearly a year after the election for Obama to come here, among them the embarrassment that is Hizzoner the Walking Id and the many federal investigations into local government corruption that are going on. I mean, who wants to be associating themselves with that and giving legitimacy to incompetents?

Granted, I think a national recession and health care reform have been taking up the lion's share of Obama's time these days...but if those reasons I've cited above have been a major consideration in the timing of this visit, then all I can say is: if the president can be so courageous abroad and be recognized for it without being associated completely with the people he is trying to reach out to, he can certainly do the same thing here in New Orleans.

Go read Cliff for more. I hope the folks in charge of the president's itinerary while he's here take Cliff's suggestions to heart.

Update, 8:36 AM: Yeah, I could see this Twitter trending topic a mile away. Will have to tell Daniel Z. about it.

Anudder update, 10:28 AM: Coozan Pat on the prematurity of Obama's Nobel.

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