Monday, October 12, 2009

What Will Be the Political Impact of Obama’s Nobel?

Summary: Obama's Nobel - will it hurt or help Democrats in the long term?

As you all know by now, President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Since then, there has been a conservative firestorm of criticism for awarding it to the man within the first year of his presidency and with no especially major accomplishments.

On his Sunday talk show, former Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee told his audience “I think we ought to universally celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for potential deeds, because this gives me hope. Since I’m a musician, I’d like to go ahead and get my Grammy now.” (See the video in this morning’s top stories).

Meanwhile, Liz Cheney - the former Vice President’s daughter - called the Obama win “a farce” in her Fox News debut yesterday.

Even M.I.A. - the musician who produced the catchy song from the Slum Dog Millionaire trailer - said Obama should have turned down his Nobel, tweeting “Obama winning the nobel peace PRIZE? he should give it back like john Lennon sent back his MBE.”

The Nobel victory seems to have caused the president more embarrassment than praise here at home. But there are several reasons why neither Obama nor the Democrats have any reason to worry about the award.

1) Few will actually blame Obama. Everyone who believes he didn’t deserve it (including the president, himself, according to his speech on Friday) will blame the Nobel committee. Furthermore, it’s difficult to expect him to actually turn down the award, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to say you’ve won the world’s most prestigious award.

2) No one will care come election time. In 2012, who is honestly going to criticize the Nobel win let alone remember it? The issues of the day change quickly, and while this is what everyone is talking about right now, it’s not going to be what we’re talking about three years from now. In fact, hardly anyone will be talking about it three weeks from now.

3) It will not disrupt what Obama is trying to accomplish. The legislative priorities the president is taking will not be hindered because no one will associate a Nobel Peace Prize with, say, healthcare reform. Furthermore, no Congressional Democrats will feel at risk because of Obama’s Nobel - voters simply aren’t going to tie them to the president’s victory. The only area in which the Nobel could get in the way - or, conversely, assist the president - is foreign policy, and even that seems a little unlikely in the long run.

So congratulations to President Obama for his surprise victory. Perhaps he didn’t fully deserve it (although progressives like myself have valid reasons to believe he did, to an extent) but at least the criticisms will die down relatively soon and the embarrassment will be minimal.

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