The sad heart of Ruth

The Ruth Marcus take on the Obama Nobel is an instant Village classic:

This turns the award into something like pee-wee soccer: everybody wins for trying.

[….]

If the Nobel Committee ran out of worthy candidates, it might have engaged in a bit of recycling. Nothing wrong with a second prize to Aung San Suu Kyi (1991). And I suspect it did not actually do the president any favors. Obama’s cheerleaders don’t need the encouragement — and his critics will only seize on the prize to further lampoon the Obama-as-Messiah storyline.

It’s got it all, a lame joke based on her experiences as an upper class suburban parent, the good news for Republicans stuff, and an extremely half-assed effort at suggesting an alternative candidate (Aung San Suu Kyi is great, but no one has ever gotten the Peace Nobel twice). If you’re going to go with the someone-else-should-have-gotten-it shtick (which I don’t even disagree with), at least google a little to come up with a list instead of just going with a previous winner you’re familiar with.

Anyway, it would have just been good news for the Myanmar military junta if Aung San Suu Kyi had gotten it again.






94 replies
  1. 1
    El Cid says:

    This reminds me that today I had not yet been prompted to say out loud “Fuck the god damned Washington Post‘s ideologues,” so I appreciate the reminder. Usually it’s some even worse cheerleading of whatever right wing / liberal hawk nonsense foreign policy or right wing / Reaganite economics bullshit.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    *ahem*
    Concern Troll is CONCERNED!

    Seriously, I expected a little more high ball objections. Where’s the open letter condemning the Nobel Committee for embracing a known associate of terrorists? Why haven’t I heard about the Olympics condolence prize theory? How long until someone connects the dots between Obama, Nobel, and the New World Order? When do we check the counter tops?!

    Perhaps I’ve been a bit spoiled, but I am still awaiting a higher level of crazy.

  3. 3
    Ian says:

    This turns the award into something like pee-wee soccer: everybody wins for trying

    They give everyone an award for pee wee soccer. They give out 1 noble prize a year. And they don’t give it to dead people or people who already won it.

    But she starts out her article saying she likes Obama, so its got to be good journalism

  4. 4
    DougJ says:

    And they don’t give it to dead people or people who already won it.

    In the sciences, people have gotten it more than once. And Linus Pauling got a peace one after getting one for Chemistry.

    But they’ve never given two to the same person in literature or peace.

  5. 5
    shoutingattherain says:

    What used to be a great national honor has become a great personal albatross.

    I loathe these people.

  6. 6
    Martin says:

    Didn’t we already see this scene when Al Gore won?

    Can’t they at least try and be original?

  7. 7
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Aung San Suu Kyi is great, but no one has ever gotten the Peace Nobel twice

    May be true about the peace prize but there have been people who have won the Nobel Prize twice, Marie Curie, Linus Pauling and John Bardeen come to mind.

    Oops, typed this before I saw DougJ’s comment.

  8. 8
    DougJ says:

    May be true about the peace prize but there have been people who have won the Nobel Prize twice, Marie Curie, Linus Pauling and John Bardeen come to mind.

    No one has ever gotten an unshared one in the same field twice.

  9. 9
    Emma says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: different group of people, different rules. Different prize, even.

  10. 10
    mclaren says:

    I’m going to have to go with the Republicans on this one. Obama campaigned on ending the Iraq war. So far, no sign of any reduction in American military forces in Iraq, while the insane already-lost quagmire in Afghanistan is getting cranked up to ever higher levels.

    Obama’s foreign policy is indistinguishable from that of the lunatics in the previous maladministration. Obviously it’s nice to see Obama getting some kudos from the rest of the world and presonally I enjoy watching the Repubs squirm, but it’s entirely clear that Obama doesn’t remotely deserve the Nobel peace prize.

    If you want a much more deserving nominee, how about Cindy Sheehan?

  11. 11
    Warren Terra says:

    I understand the joy of taking potshots at all these fish so conveniently prepared for you in their barrels, but how about linking to some actual good posts on the subject?

    I nominate this Phil Nugent post; some excerpts:

    The Nobel does have one very real purpose, and that is that, by giving it to the right person once in a while–a Dalai Lama, a Lech Wałęsa, a Desmond Tutu, an Al Gore–you can really piss off some people who richly deserve to be pissed off. The Committee has done its best to suggest that Obama was given the award because of the things he wants to do, but I suspect that he was given the award for something he is, or rather isn’t: i.e.. he isn’t George W. Bush, or Bush’s designated successor. Which ought to be recognized as a very low bar, but there’s more to it than that.
    The Bush years should be–will be–remembered as the country’s moral low point since the end of slavery, a time when an inane little man with no qualifications but his family connections lost a democratic election, was appointed to the job of leader of the free world anyway, by his father’s old cronies and party colleagues and with the complicity and approval of the press, and then proceeded to spend his full term ignoring the needs of the country and its people while using the time to instead order up legal rationales for an imperial presidency dedicated to the justification of torture and wars of choice, while creating a climate of fear that was meant to provide a reason for all of it. It was a horror show, and for those of us not of boundless faith, there were moments during it when it felt as if it would never end and that the most rotten people in America had succeeded in permanently reshaping the country and its values to make a better climate for their lizard skins.

    In light of this, the award should rightly have been given, not to Obama, but to the voters of the United States, who made the real heroic choice last November. But to have done that would have come too close to admitting the real reasons for giving the prize to Obama, which would have amounted to saying aloud that America, from the moment that the Supreme Court decided that honor and intellectual decency were things that it would be happier without, to at least the 2006 midterms, seemed about as much of a lost cause as Poland under martial law and South Africa during apartheid. And you don’t win a peace prize, or get chosen to distribute them, by saying things like that.

  12. 12
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Everybody remember how the Villagers hated the Clintons? As time went on, they didn’t bother disguising it anymore.

    This just shows that they hate the Obamas too. They just can’t be as overt about it cuz their greatest fear is being accused of being racist.

    They’d rather be accused of being dim-witted, insular asswipes.

  13. 13
    Alex says:

    Obama was awarded the Nobel for not being a dull, belligerent warmonger who is incapable of listening to other views or using diplomacy.

    In other words, he got the Nobel for not being George W. Bush.

  14. 14
    mai naem says:

    Please tell me this Ruth Marcus thing is a joke because her BFF Mona Charen had a nasty little statement about That One getting the NPP.

    In other news Sarah Palin was tweeting about how much more noble she was than Barack Obama and how come she didn’t get the Peace Prize.

    Also too, That One got the prize for the peace negotiations between James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates.

  15. 15
    DougJ says:

    If you want a much more deserving nominee, how about Cindy Sheehan?

    I hope you’re kidding. Talk about accomplishing nothing.

    I don’t know exactly how the prize works, but personally, I would like to see a Russian dissident of some kind get it. Maybe Kasparov or one of the journalists who has been recently profiled. Those guys have amazing courage. Maybe it’s not peacey enough.

  16. 16
    slag says:

    and his critics will only seize on the prize to further lampoon the Obama-as-Messiah storyline.

    He’s too good! Send him back for that other one. You know…the guy who never coulda predicted anything or think of any mistakes he’s made. What’s-his-name. The guy who was wandering around in a tuxedo pretending to look for WMD. That guy! He was fun.

  17. 17
    DougJ says:

    I understand the joy of taking potshots at all these fish so conveniently prepared for you in their barrels, but how about linking to some actual good posts on the subject?

    I don’t understand enough about the prize to want to second anyone’s explanation of why it was a good pick or anything like that. Not yet, anyway.

  18. 18
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Were columnists for Washington Post always this clueless?

  19. 19
    Dr. Loveless says:

    I kinda hope that Obama will thank Bill Ayers in his acceptance speech. Is it wrong of me to hope that?

  20. 20
    Joshua Norton says:

    This is great news for Team Wingnut!!

    Or it could have been until their great white leader started praising the Taliban.

    So are righties spouting treason or sedition? They seemed to be such experts at spotting it in others during the reign of ChimpCo.

  21. 21
    Robin G. says:

    I love the stuff from the Villagers about how “this is going to make Obama’s opponents super-duper double EXTRA mad!!!” Obama could create a National Puppies Are Cute Day and these people would parade around with pictures of pugs and scream about how this means Death Panels For Cute Kittens. There’s no appeasing these people.

  22. 22
    Redshirt says:

    Limbaugh has a beauty of a quote up, agreeing with the comparisons to the Taliban. DougJ! You are redeemed!

  23. 23
    Warren Terra says:

    May be true about the peace prize but there have been people who have won the Nobel Prize twice, Marie Curie, Linus Pauling and John Bardeen come to mind.
    No one has ever gotten an unshared one in the same field twice.

    This is true – indeed, I don’t know of anyone who has won two unshared Nobel prizes at all – but on the other hand the only fields in which people frequently win unshared Nobel prizes are Literature and (to a lesser extent) Peace.

    Not that I think that a second Nobel Peace Prize for the excellent Aung San Suu Kyi makes sense, but as a grounds for objection obsessing on the criterion of whether prizes were shared is a bit much.

    On the other hand, the few people who have won two Nobels tend to have done so for notable distinct achievements, not a second prize for persevering with their original achievement.

  24. 24
    slag says:

    @Warren Terra: I like Fareed Zakaria’s take:

    …It may not influence the far right, but it may make clear for many other undecided Americans what President Obama hopes to achieve. Obama’s outreach to the world is an experiment: He wants to demonstrate at home that engagement does not make America weak…

  25. 25
    freelancer says:

    JK-Bait:

    BECK: Of all things, the Nobel Peace Prize should be turned down by Barack Obama and given — you ready for this, oh this one’s going to make headlines — should be give to the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project. … Because of the arrogance of the progressives that thought no one would stand in their way. That he would be able to accomplish everything. Two weeks into his presidency, they nominated him for it and said, “oh this is going to be a slam dunk.” Because of the Tea Party goers and the 9-12 Project people that stood in his way and stopped him from accomplishing the things that he thought, “please, I’m the Messiah, I’ll be able to accomplish that.”

  26. 26
    cyd says:

    at least google a little to come up with a list instead of just going with a previous winner you’re familiar with.

    I’d nominate the government of Indonesia for their fantastically successful peace process in Aceh (the right-wing, of course, would still be pissed by the recognition of Mooslims).

  27. 27
    Redshirt says:

    Here’s the Limbaugh quote:

    “Our president is a worldwide joke. Folks, do you realize something has happened here that we all agree with the Taliban and Iran about and that is he doesn’t deserve the award. Now that’s hilarious, that I’m on the same side of something that the Taliban, and that we all are on the same side as the Taliban.”

  28. 28
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Warren Terra:
    I think DougJ is a little bit jealous, because there is no Nobel
    for mathematics.

  29. 29
    joes527 says:

    @Dr. Loveless:

    I kinda hope that Obama will thank Bill Ayers in his acceptance speech.

    If he would just say the words:

    “… and I’d like to thank Bill Ayers for writing that book for me …”

    I think we would achieve the wingularity.

  30. 30
    Stefan says:

    Obama’s foreign policy is indistinguishable from that of the lunatics in the previous maladministration.

    Which sovereign nation has Obama attacked and invaded without provocation? Help me out here, because if his policy is indistinguishable from Bush there must be at least one, right?

  31. 31
    Awesom0 says:

    I love the criticisms that Obama hasn’t accomplished anything and therefore doesn’t deserve the prize, then add in Aung San Suu Kyi as an example of somebody who did deserve it.

    Using their logic, Aung San Suu Kyi, hasn’t accomplished anything either. She’s still imprisoned in her house and the junta is just as strong as ever. Shirin Ebadi from Iran hasn’t accomplished anything either. Last time I checked, the Iranian regime is still going strong and threatening (at least according to conservative talking points) to bring about the apocalypse.

    Again, I’m not saying any of this is actually true, just applying conservative logic…

    Of course, any good, god fearing, America loving conservative should recoil in horror that American leadership is again respected in some quarters. Oh, the horror!

  32. 32
    Dreggas says:

    In other Limbaugh news, he’s supposedly in the bidding to buy the St. Louis Rams LOL

  33. 33

    This turns the award into something like pee-wee soccer: everybody wins for trying.

    I dislike the whole Village Idiocy thing as much as anybody, but I have to say that there’s something to that line. While there are aspects of Obama’s foreign policy I think are spot on (the Cairo speech, his work on nuclear proliferation, his outreach to Iran, his efforts to reset relations with Russia), it’s a testament to how far and how fast we fell during the Bush years that Obama wins the Peace prize just for slowly trying to right the ship of state and get it back on course. It seems to me, however, that the awarding of the Peace prize is premature, if ever he were to actually deserve same. Yes, his intentions and general direction on the International stage are more laudable than his predecessor’s, but he hasn’t really accomplished much yet in the name of peace. Not that that’s bad, or even unexpected; he’s only been in office for nine months, after all.

    On the flip side, while he’s made noises and even promises about drawing down in Iraq, I haven’t really seen that he’s done so, and he’s escalated our presence in Afghanistan, without there really being an objective much less a set of metrics for its accomplishment, and his program of targeted assassination in the FATA, while seemingly effective, does seem to keep generating collateral damage (Glenn Greewald’s got some pics). A case could be made that it’s necessary, or at least worthwhile, but it’s hard to square with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize.

    In the end, I think you have to conclude that the Nobel committee wanted one last shot at George W. Bush, and took it, and that in doing so they cheapened the honor and prestige of the Peace prize by not reserving it for someone who has actually accomplished significant things in the realm of world peace, instead of just showing up and kicking the ball as hard as they can, even if it’s into their own goal sometimes.

  34. 34
    Crashman06 says:

    @Redshirt: What a waste of space that man is. How could you say something like that? Where are the outraged conservative patriots? Oh, I forgot. They’re all hypocrites.

  35. 35
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @freelancer: Shorter Beck: “They should have given it to ME!”

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    So, Glenn Beck really believes that the Nobel Peace Prize should go to, well, Glenn Beck’s 9/12 project, because he got a bunch of predominately white Southerners to gather in Washington DC and scream “WE’RE AS DUMB AS HELL AIN’T WE AIN’T GONNA TAKE IT NO MORE!!!”

  37. 37
    DougJ says:

    I think DougJ is a little bit jealous, because there is no Nobel for mathematics.

    Yeah, that does kind of suck.

    My main issue with the Nobels is the inexplicably stupid awarding of the early ones for lit. No Twain, no Tolstoy, no Ibsen, no Thomas Hardy, no James Joyce(!). What a joke.

  38. 38
    Fulcanelli says:

    @freelancer: Satire is dead. Officially.

  39. 39
    Zifnab says:

    @freelancer:

    you ready for this, oh this one’s going to make headlines

    Shorter Beck: LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEE!

    Dude is such an attention whore, it hurts.

  40. 40
    Redshirt says:

    Logic would seem to indicate that when you are voluntarily associating yourselves with what, just a few months ago would have been blasphemous, you might want to reassess your take on the matter.

    But, what’s logic got to do with it?

  41. 41
    freelancer says:

    @Zifnab:

    How long until someone connects the dots between Obama, Nobel, and the New World Order? When do we check the counter tops?!

    About 23 minutes.

  42. 42
    kay says:

    @Awesom0:

    Marcus is a boring scold. Most of her columns are about how one or another rule has been breached.
    What interests me about her is this: she’s not a good writer.
    Rigidly conventional, an unpleasant self-important scold, and a poor writer. I don’t know what she brings to the table. I can’t imagine why she has that job. Is there nepotism involved? I would hope so. That’s an explanation, at least.

  43. 43
    Martin says:

    I don’t understand enough about the prize to want to second anyone’s explanation of why it was a good pick or anything like that. Not yet, anyway.

    Why not start with the committee’s explanation?

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

    Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

    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. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

    For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses 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.”

    It’s apparent that they were forward looking in this award. And not to diminish the accomplishments of many of the other names mentioned (notably excepting Cindy Sheehan) none of them are in a position to work on as broad a scale as Obama and none of them are in a position to actually take action. That’s the whole point of putting the right attitude in the White House – the President can actually get shit done.

    And they confirmed that the selection was unanimous on the committee, so clearly the committee wasn’t troubled by the choice.

  44. 44
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @DougJ:
    I don’t know much about the ones in literature, but in physics (my background) most of them seem pretty well deserved, although many of them were too late in coming, i.e. given decades after the original breakthrough.

  45. 45
    Demo Woman says:

    Isn’t it time that the right wing stop criticizing Jeremy Wright for hating America.

  46. 46
    Boots Day says:

    So when Obama is rebuffed by the world community (in the form of the IOC), that’s bad for Obama.

    And when Obama is applauded by the world community (in the form of the Nobel committee), that’s bad for Obama.

    I think I’m starting to figure this out.

  47. 47
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Boots Day:
    Tune it out, it is noise. That’s what I do anyway.

  48. 48

    to DougJ:

    We’ve let the right run the narrative for far too long, and the upshot is that we now have to defend the selection of a few Scandanavians, whose collective hearts were certainly in the right place, if not necessarily their minds. (I’m not saying, however, that it was a completely unwarranted choice.) Like I said in another thread, this just makes it all crystal clear to me whose side I’m on and who I choose to support. I hope this event speaks to others in the same way. You don’t even have to agree with the selection of Obama to see that the right is in full-on flame mode, and be completely and utterly ashamed of them for it.

    Further, and not necessarily to our benefit as a country engaged in a debate with itself, it also speaks volumes to me about the stance of the rest of the western world. I used to honestly wonder what fresh hell would be brought by seeing this country polarize itself into complete chaos, and the response to this event has given me a nice taste of the things to come. I just hope the Secret Service is has their game faces on, because I think they are going to have their work cut out for them from here on out.

  49. 49
    Demo Woman says:

    Sorry if this has been posted but Political Wire has this quote
    Gives us a sense of momentum when the United States has accolades tossed its way rather than shoes.”
    — A State Department spokesman, quoted by CNN, on President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

  50. 50
    kay says:

    @anticontrarian:

    Do you think there’s something arrogant about the US political pundit class telling the Nobel committee they are deluded fools?

    Because I do. Do we know everything? We’re the final arbiters of what’s Right and Good and Fair?

    There’s a difference between our domestic political situation and the aspirations and objectives of the members of this committee, and it is, after all, a prize they award.

    I think you have to start with the assumption that Obama’s selection meets their current criteria, or what are you really saying? That Ruth Marcus knows better? How the hell would she know?

  51. 51
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Yes.

    Thus endeth today’s episode of One Word Answers to Probing Questions.

  52. 52
    schrodinger's cat says:

    As we approach wingularity, wingnuts are turning into dense, concentrated mass, impervious to reason or logic or even fact,
    like a black hole, through which even light can’t pass.

  53. 53
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Were columnists for Washington Post always this clueless?

    Yes.

    Thus endeth today’s episode of One Word Answers to Probing Questions.

    Waaaah, why can’t I edit?

  54. 54
    Demo Woman says:

    @kay: Short answer Yes!

  55. 55
    The Saff says:

    @shoutingattherain:

    What used to be a great national honor has become a great personal albatross. I loathe these people.

    I’m with you there. I was really happy for the president this morning when I heard the news (still am). But all the howls of outrage from the wingers and the media has just pissed me off. I hate every last one of them.

  56. 56
    JGabriel says:

    They give out 1 noble prize a year. And they don’t give it to dead people or people who already won it.

    Maybe Nobel committee wants to make sure Obama has the peace prize before some winger takes a potshot at him. It makes a certain amount of sense, though it’s not very flattering to the Secret Service.

    (BTW, I really wish the SS would change its name. It’s so Gestapo-like.)

    .

  57. 57
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    As we approach wingularity, wingnuts are turning into dense, concentrated mass, impervious to reason or logic or even fact,
    like a black hole, through which even light can’t pass.

    Black holes serve a useful function (galaxy formation).

    The same cannot be said about wingnuts.

  58. 58
    tamied says:

    @Boots Day: Actually, as soon as you figure it out, the rules will be changed.

  59. 59
    Martin says:

    BTW, I would have fixed my blockquote fail, but FYWP.

  60. 60
    LD50 says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Wow, I’d be hard-pressed to phrase that better:

    The Bush years should be—will be—remembered as the country’s moral low point since the end of slavery, a time when an inane little man with no qualifications but his family connections lost a democratic election, was appointed to the job of leader of the free world anyway, by his father’s old cronies and party colleagues and with the complicity and approval of the press, and then proceeded to spend his full term ignoring the needs of the country and its people while using the time to instead order up legal rationales for an imperial presidency dedicated to the justification of torture and wars of choice, while creating a climate of fear that was meant to provide a reason for all of it. It was a horror show, and for those of us not of boundless faith, there were moments during it when it felt as if it would never end and that the most rotten people in America had succeeded in permanently reshaping the country and its values to make a better climate for their lizard skins.

  61. 61
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @Fulcanelli:

    Satire is dead. Officially.

    Satire’s been dead for years. We’re at the point now where the wingers are digging up its corpse and making soup from its bones.

  62. 62
    kay says:

    @Demo Woman:

    I always have trouble with this. It’s just too easy for Ruth Marcus to take a bold stand on behalf of the human right’s activist.

    These “the wrong guy got the award!” things always end up being about the lofty standards of the person lodging the objection.

    It’s ALL about Ruth, I’m afraid. That wronged human rights activist is just a handy prop for yet another lecture by this professional scold.

    She believes in STANDARDS, unlike those idjits on that committee, right? Is that what I’m supposed to get from this cranky little screed?

  63. 63
    Calouste says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I don’t know much about the ones in literature, but in physics (my background) most of them seem pretty well deserved, although many of them were too late in coming, i.e. given decades after the original breakthrough.

    Part of the lateness is because it can sometimes be a long time before the original discoveries are confirmed and their actual implications become clear. Part is also that in the early part of the 20th century there were so many great discoveries in physics that there was a backlog for the awards. For example, the guys who first split the atom (which made frontpage news in its day) , Cockcroft and Walton, only got their prize 19 years after the fact.

  64. 64
    slag says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Have they put up the definition for Wingnut Event Horizon yet?

  65. 65
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:
    Well, they have turned off enough people off the GOP (like our esteemed blog host and Tunchinator’s humble servant, many independents and non wingular Republicans), which made Obama’s election possible last November.

  66. 66
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @slag:
    I don’t know, I haven’t checked.

  67. 67
    mistersnrub says:

    Boy, Limbaugh has really been fixated of late on the concepts of “emasculation” and America “being neutered.” Wonder why that is…

  68. 68
    Warren Terra says:

    @ Ian, #3

    They give out 1 noble prize a year. And they don’t give it to dead people or people who already won it.

    Wow, this is so full of fail for such a short passage:
    (1) It’s Nobel – a capitalized proper name, and correctly spelled. Not “noble”.
    (2) The Nobel prizes are given not all given out by the same people. Hence, no “They” exists to give them out.
    (3) “They” give out 6 Nobel prizes a year (if you count Economics, a “Nobel Memorial Prize” not created by Alfred Nobel); five of these can go to up to three people (unless the rules for Literature are different from the rest), and the sixth can go to massive organizations. So in a given year the number of honorees can range from 6 people to hundreds of people; usually it’s a bit more than a dozen.
    (4) Dead people are specifically eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize, as long as they were alive when the last prize was awarded. Dead people cannot be named recipients of the other prizes, but if they’re alive when named and then subsequently die before the ceremony, they still get the prize. And at least one person severely afflicted with dementia got a Nobel a few years back, for work that he’d done decades earlier and that had fully merited the Nobel (ideally, merited receiving the Nobel back when he’d have understood and enjoyed it).
    (5) They do give the Nobel to people who’ve already won the Nobel – including two Nobelists who won twice in the same field, and another two who won twice but in different fields. I think that one of the recent large “organization” Peace prizes may also resulted in some person who’d already won the prize getting a small piece of another one, but I’m not sure.

  69. 69
    Roger Moore says:

    @Warren Terra:

    indeed, I don’t know of anyone who has won two unshared Nobel prizes at all

    Linus Pauling is the only one. He won the Chemistry Nobel in 1954 for his work on the nature of the chemical bond and the Peace Nobel in 1962 for his work on ending nuclear testing.

  70. 70
    JasonF says:

    Every good wingnut knows the Nobel Peace Prize should really have gone to Roberto Micheletti.

    (That’s intended as a joke. Now I’m off to Google to see if reality has already lapped my joke).

    Edit: Yep. Sigh.

  71. 71
    Mike says:

    I have to agree with the posters above, it’s truly sad that American prestige has sunk so low that the Nobel Committee enthusiastically gave the award to Obama
    for simply aspiring to and encouraging world peace.

    And in keeping with the general theme of American exceptionalism, by all means
    let’s have the US media determine the proper criteria for the Committee’s
    decision.

  72. 72
    kay says:

    @Demo Woman:

    I’ve said this before, regarding Obama’s media-assigned role as Official Spokesperson for All Things Race-Related, but there’s a burden, as well as a benefit, to his unique role, and it’s come up again, here, although not in the race context.
    I don’t know why he inspires envy. I have some sympathy for him in these situations. People project their aspirations onto him. They just do. You read it here, where people are shocked and amazed he’s so far into Afghanistan, although he said he was going to do just that, nearly every day of the campaign. “You mean he’s not a pacifist? See, I thought he WAS”. Why did they think that?
    He doesn’t have any control over what people think he is. They may be right, they may be wrong, but it’s all coming from them, it seems to me.

  73. 73
    Warren Terra says:

    indeed, I don’t know of anyone who has won two unshared Nobel prizes at all

    Linus Pauling is the only one. He won the Chemistry Nobel in 1954 for his work on the nature of the chemical bond and the Peace Nobel in 1962 for his work on ending nuclear testing.

    Huh, I hadn’t realized that his prizes were unshared.

  74. 74
    bedtimeforbonzo says:

    @Alex: Seems to me President Obama has made a pretty nice career out of not being George Bush.

    Kind of ironic that President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize just after “Saturday Night Live” began its show with an opening skit on how he has not yet accomplished anything.

    Perhaps the Nobel committee is simply ahead of the curve on this one.

  75. 75
    bedtimeforbonzo says:

    “I don’t know exactly how the prize works, but personally, I would like to see a Russian dissident of some kind get it. Maybe Kasparov or one of the journalists who has been recently profiled. Those guys have amazing courage.”

    This is an excellent suggestion by DougJ.

    Sadly, it would seem to be thinking that is too out of the box for the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

    More attention needs to be paid to what is going in Putin’s Russia, where Kasparov has shown tremendous courage and free-thinking (which is a bad thing in that country).

  76. 76
    Demo Woman says:

    @kay: Every one was surprised this morning when the announcement was made. On further reflection no one has united the world through speeches as much as President Obama in such a short time. You could see that by the number of people that turned out in Germany to listen to him. His Cairo speech was outstanding. I loved the state dept. comment that throwing accolades is better than throwing shoes

    He campaigned on Afghanistan. Former President Bush pulled the Marines out and let it muddle through during his term. McCain was willing to letting it “muddle through”.
    President Obama during the debate said that was the wrong policy and I agree with you that a lot of folks must have been sleeping if they heard otherwise.

  77. 77
    Martin says:

    Dead people are specifically eligible for the Nobel Peace Prize, as long as they were alive when the last prize was awarded.

    I don’t think that’s quite right. My understanding is that they need to be alive at the deadline of nomination. At least, that’s the explanation I’ve always heard why Gandhi never was awarded one – he died between the last prize date and the nomination date for the next one (where it was expected he’d win).

  78. 78
    buggy ding dong says:

    @Alex: That’s exactly why he got it, and that isn’t much of an achievement.

    I seriously don’t think he or we have done anything to warrant such an award. Gitmo is still open for God’s sake.

  79. 79

    @kay:

    Do you think there’s something arrogant about the US political pundit class telling the Nobel committee they are deluded fools?

    Yes, I absolutely do. Pundits are almost always arrogant. That’s why they think other people care about their opinions.

    Because I do. Do we know everything? We’re the final arbiters of what’s Right and Good and Fair?

    Nice rhetorical trick. Largely meaningless. What’s good and right and fair are nearly always the product of ongoing cultural negotiations. Barring belief in a montheistic religion, there is no final arbiter.

    There’s a difference between our domestic political situation and the aspirations and objectives of the members of this committee, and it is, after all, a prize they award.

    That’s true, though I don’t recall saying much of anything about our domestic political situation, save that Obama’s foreign policy is more laudable that his predecessor’s. The criticism I offered re: the committee’s decision was that a) Obama hasn’t been in office long enough to accomplish the sort of world-historical significant strides towards world peace that a prize as prestigious as the Nobel Peace Prize would seem to require, and b) that it’s difficult to square his policies in Iraq and Afghanistan with the awarding of a Prize in Peace.

    I think you have to start with the assumption that Obama’s selection meets their current criteria, or what are you really saying? That Ruth Marcus knows better? How the hell would she know?

    It may be that he does in fact satisfy their criteria. I would be surprised if the case were otherwise. I still think it was the wrong decision, on the merits, and said so. As for Ruth Marcus, I could give fuck-all about her, or her opinions. I do not read her, or think much of her or many of her colleagues on the WaPo editorial and opinions pages. I did, however, explicitly focus in on a single line that I thought was illustrative of one of the things that has struck me about this whole business, which was that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama for showing up and trying hard to undo the mistakes, missteps, and misdemeanors of the previous regime was too close for my comfort to the practice of awarding kiddie soccer teams trophies just for showing up, another practice with which I disagree (I should add that I have coached kids soccer for a few years now). As to who should win the Nobel Peace prize, I think it would be presumptuous for me to say, but I would like to think that it would be someone whose accomplishments in the field are already accomplished (never mind that it seems logical that it would be awarded to someone who is not currently engaged in making war). I realize that the Committee disagrees with me on that, and that’s fine, but I am entitled to my opinion just like everybody else, even if some people think it stinks.

  80. 80
    Koz says:

    “I don’t know exactly how the prize works, but personally, I would like to see a Russian dissident of some kind get it. Maybe Kasparov or one of the journalists who has been recently profiled.”

    I don’t want to spoil your fun but if you actually paid attention to Kasparov’s views and statements you’d be disparaging him with the usual “wingnut” jibes.

  81. 81
    Cerberus says:

    To those disparaging the award, note the history of it. The Nobel Peace Prize has always existed as a testament of individual history against the raw weight of oppressive jingo. A herculean task of trying to hold the reins against momentum and human cruelty.

    With our press corps filled with militaristic genocidal fucks coming out of the orgy of military excess of the Bush era, simply slowing the forward momentum and slowly rolling it backwards by maintaining that talking to people and getting back to banning nukes is the good and right thing to do IS an act of unbridled courage.

    And the Nobel Prize pretty much admits the award is based mostly on the future expectations by his early statements and movements and with full knowledge of the systems in play working against him and anyone else who stands for peace or against wanton destruction.

    Plus, yes, it’s partly a “you’re not Bush” prize. That’s important. Of the three front runners last election, two campaigned for continuing the wars or the rightness of the doctrine behind them. One, the other in the main campaign, was for increasing the doctrine against additional states (critically one that would have reopened the Cold War much to wingnut’s joy). Obama was the only one stating a doctrine of returning to sanity and completely dismantling the police state.

    These goals are noble and necessary and indeed the things that tend to win Peace prizes.

    Do I personally think the award is premature and essentially a statement to the world about how important it is for superpowers capable of destroying the world to be SANE?

    Yes, but then again, they made the case well that that message is critical and the task of returning sanity to a mindless monster without coup or a complete rewrite of the country is the type of sissyphean task that deserves of the reward.

    Much like with Rio getting the Olympics, maybe the right man actually did get it because he deserved it.

  82. 82
    Awesom0 says:

    I can already hear the future wingnut criticism the next time Obama makes any kind of international overture which doesn’t include some form of bombing: “Mr. Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t want to damage his standing with the elitist, European Socialist, Polanski-fluffing surrender monkeys.”

  83. 83
    Awesom0 says:

    Can I at least edit my comment while it’s awaiting moderation? It’s a grammatical train wreck. I was too busy looking over my shoulder for ACORN that I wasn’t paying attention.

  84. 84
    Awesom0 says:

    F@ck, I did it again!

  85. 85
    Zifnab says:

    @freelancer: :-p Well, there’s my answer.

  86. 86

    So on the one hand I’m sitting here thinking “What has he gotten it for? He hasn’t delivered on anything yet. We’re still in Iraq, ramping up Afghanistan and doing everything that Likud tells us to. Maybe he should turn it down.” Then I read columns such as Ruth Marcus’s or watch the wingnut reaction and think “your resentment is delicious, but I want MOOOOOOOOORRRRRREEEEEEEE”. Does this make me a bad person?

  87. 87

    @JGabriel

    BTW, I really wish the SS would change its name. It’s so Gestapo-like.

    I disagree, “secret service” sounds cool. Besides the SS wasn’t Gestapo-like, they were the Schutzstaffel, the Gestapo was the Geheime Staatspolizei. OK, they were both chock full o’Nazis but one was the military arm of the Nazi party and the other was the secret police.

    Pedantry aside what bugs me about the secret service is that they aren’t very secret. Have you ever been to an event where the president is going to be? You’ve got about 5 million guys in who are in great shape, wearing conservative suits and haircuts and standing tall with one of those funky little wired earpieces in their ears. How fucking “secret” is that? If they were really cool they would be like ninjas or disguised as houseplants or something and when the shit went down they’d just come out of nowhere. That would be cool.

  88. 88
    Barbara says:

    Actually, Aung San Suu Kyi, along with Desmond Tutu and more than a few others got the prize almost as a dare to their home countries to stop them. It’s not as if she has fostered a lot of peace in Burma, even though she has made tremendous personal sacrifice in trying.

    It’s like the gene for strategic thinking is totally absent in many of these people.

  89. 89
    Steeplejack says:

    @DougJ:

    But they’ve never given two to the same person in literature or peace.

    The literature prize is for your lifetime body of work, so it would be superfluous to give it to the same person twice.

  90. 90
    Steeplejack says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Well said–er, linked.

  91. 91
    Steeplejack says:

    @DougJ:

    . . . no Borges, no Nabokov, no Louis L’Amour. Sigh. Wait, what? Okay, scratch that last one.

  92. 92
    Steeplejack says:

    @Wile E. Quixote:

    How fucking “secret” is that? If they were really cool they would be like ninjas or disguised as houseplants or something and when the shit went down they’d just come out of nowhere. That would be cool.

    Amen. “WTF?! The president is just walking around in public. Let’s go talk to him. Ow! That tree just shot me in the leg!”

  93. 93
    Steeplejack says:

    Damn. I hate it when I get to the bottom of a thread, after reading it and responding to various comments, and see that the last five comments are all by me–which means I have been working a dead thread. (If not killing it.) Damn. Just damn.

  94. 94
    kay says:

    @anticontrarian:

    I think disagreeing “on the merits” when you admit you don’t know the criteria for the selection is impossible to do. I believe you disagree, but it has nothing to do with “on the merits” unless you, like Marcus, are just inventing a subjective standard. You’re adhering to “standards” but they’re your own.
    I do think it’s funny that the same people who are complaining the selection was “political” are using the selection to advance a political agenda of their own. That’s a domestic political agenda, because it’s inside the United States, and one that the committee may well have been unconcerned with, because they aren’t Americans.
    I read the background of the selection standards in Ruth’s own newspaper, in a background piece, something she couldn’t be bothered to do, apparently. There’s an “aspirational” award and an “achievement” award, and that’s a long-standing distinction.
    But she knows best. Those naive committee members are fools.

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