Well, I can hear the right wing already screaming about the leftist slant of the Nobel committee. Just like they did when Al Gore won, and Jimmy Carter won. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, maybe peace has a liberal bias. And I think there is some dismay that Obama won without having a substantive body of work to justify getting the prize. Obama may not be a conventional pick, but there may be some very good reasons for the Nobel committee’s choice.
One that comes to mind is the down payment Obama has made in restablishing the USA as an agent of positive change and moral leadership around the world. And he has done it with a great deal of grace and humility. One could argue that just about anyone left of Genghis Kahn could have done this in the wake of Cheney-Bush. There are those who have claimed that Obama is nothing but pretty words and clever rhetoric. I don’t believe that is true, I think he is much more than that, but the US and the world needs someone with Obama’s ability to inspire us and get us to think about loftier goals.
Another good reason for Obama to get the prize is that he is a living manifestation of the future. The combination of his global outlook, education, and experiences make him the ideal leader to begin building bridges between countries, continents, and creeds. All those things that the Palin-ites were so worried about, those things that supposedly made Obama less American, actually look good to many around the world and indeed to Americans who believe that being a good global citizen is something to be proud of.
And, although I am not sure if this played any role in the committee’s choice, there is something to be said about Obama’s ability to confront the racial stalemate in the US and the world and help nudge race relations forward into the 21st century.
Whether the issues are domestic or international, or about race, class, religion or economics, he is unafraid to wade into dangerous political waters, find common ground, and just as importantly is unafraid to call things as he sees them. He is not afraid to recognize US failings, but he is also not afraid to let the rest of the world know when they aren’t living up to their promises. So he told the US, so he told Europe, so he told the Middle East, so he told Africa.
And finally, this may be the Nobel committe’s way reminding Obama how much the world is counting on him.
[Crossposted on Open Sewer.]