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US media on Obama Nobel award

The surprise decision to award the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama has prompted a flurry of reaction from US media commentators.

Barack Obama speaks at the White House, 9 Oct 2009
Barack Obama said he was humbled and surprised to win the award

Conservatives have been quick to ask what concrete achievements Mr Obama has made to be worthy of the prize - and some liberals have asked the same question. This selection reflects some of their views.

Political commentator Mark Halperin, writing in Time magazine's The Page blog, thinks the award may be a boon to Mr Obama's opponents.

"Barack Obama's critics have long accused him of being a man of 'just words', rather than concrete actions and accomplishments. The stunning decision to award him the Nobel Peace Prize for, basically, his rhetoric, will almost certainly infuriate his detractors in America more than it will delight his supporters."

Nicolas Kristof, of the New York Times, reflects the view of many commentators when he asks what Mr Obama has done to deserve the award.

"So what do you think of President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize? I'm nonplussed - I admire his efforts toward Middle East peace, but the prize still seems very premature. What has he done?... Shouldn't the Nobel Peace Prize have a higher bar than high expectations? Especially when there are so many people who have worked for years and years on the front lines, often in dangerous situations, to make a difference to the most voiceless people of the world?"

Michelle Malkin, a conservative commentator, is much more scathing.

"Isn't it so fitting? From community organiser to Illinois state senator (present!) to US Senator for 143 days before moving into the White House, and now, the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize - not for anything he's actually done, but for the symbolism of what he might possibly accomplish sometime way off in the future. It's the final nail in the Nobel Peace Prize Committee's coffin."

Fox News turns to Tommy De Seno, who blogs at JustifiedRight.com, for his take on what Mr Obama has done to merit the prize. He runs through his early days in office.

"President Obama has broken new ground here. Nominations for potential winners of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ended on February 1. The president took office only 12 days earlier on January 20. Let's take a look at the president's first 12 days in the White House according to his public schedule to see what he did to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize: January 20: Went to a parade. Partied..."

Another conservative pundit, Peter Wehner, blogging for commentarymagazine.com, thinks Mr Obama is being rewarded for not just acknowledging but agreeing with the negative views of the US held by many overseas.

"Barack Obama has given voice to what many of the world think about America - and it's not flattering. That much of the world - composed as it is of autocrats and dictators and weak and wobbly defenders of human rights and human dignity - isn't happy with the United States is not news. What is news is that an American president would validate many of those charges. I find that deeply disquieting. The Norwegian Nobel Committee, not surprisingly, considers it worthy of its highest honour."

The Washington Post's David Ignatius is more positive, arguing that Mr Obama's work to build America's international relations has real value.

"The Nobel Peace Prize award to Barack Obama seems so goofy - even if you're a fan, you have to admit that he hasn't really done much yet as a peacemaker. But there's an aspect of this prize that is real and important - and that validates Obama's strategy from the day he took office... America was too unpopular under Bush. The Nobel committee is expressing a collective sigh of relief that America has rejoined the global consensus. They're right. It's a good thing. It's just a little weird that they gave him a prize for it."

Susan Davis, in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog, comments on Mr Obama's reversal of fortune on the world stage.

"Exactly one week after President Barack Obama suffered an embarrassing defeat before an international body to secure his hometown of Chicago with the 2016 Games, he stuns the world and wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama won for his diplomatic efforts - and he remains popular overseas - but reactions about the merits and timing of the honour were immediate."

Tom Matlack, blogging for the Huffington Post news site, says Mr Obama's merit is in being an inspiration to the common man.

"Our president aspires to greatness, no doubt about that. So far he hasn't been great. Many things he wants to get done have proven a thousand times more complicated than he ever could have imagined, from health care to Afghanistan. But when the congressman on Capitol Hill shouted out 'liar' in prime time, our president showed that even if he isn't yet great he most certainly is a Good Man that we can all be proud of. In the end that's why he was awarded the Nobel peace prize."



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