Reaction to the Nobel Peace Prize and the Obama Derangement Syndrome

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama has led to a look back at the Bush administration. Assistant Secretary of State PJ Crowley, speaking for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, raised this comparison:

“Certainly from our standpoint, this gives us a sense of momentum — when the United States has accolades tossed its way, rather than shoes.”

Andrew Sullivan explains how this is seen internationally:

I don’t think Americans fully absorbed the depths to which this country’s reputation had sunk under the Cheney era. That’s understandable. And so they also haven’t fully absorbed the turn-around in the world’s view of America that Obama and the American people have accomplished. Of course, this has yet to bear real fruit. But you can begin to see how it could; and I hope more see both the peaceful intentions and the steely resolve of this man to persevere.

This president has done a huge amount to bring race relations in this country to a different place, which is why the far right has become so vicious in attacking him and lying about him. They know he threatens their politics of division and rule. He has also directly addressed the Muslim world, telling some hard truths, and played a small role in evoking a similar movement of hope and change in Iran, and finally told the Israelis to stop cutting their nose off to spite their face…

Right now, we do not know where that direction will ultimately lead. We do know that we were facing a spiral of conflict that, unchecked, could have taken the world to the abyss. I see this prize as an endorsement of his extraordinary reorientation of world politics, and as an encouragement to see it through. In the midst of our domestic battles, and their ill-temper (from which I have not been immune lately), this is an attempt to tell us: look up for a moment, see how far we’ve come in pivoting away from global conflict, and give this man a break for his efforts and the massive burden he now bears.

And, in the darkness that still threatens, know hope.

Sullivan’s take on why conservatives are so opposed to Obama winning this award is similar to the views I expressed here and here. Rachel Maddow further discussed the Obama Derangement Syndrome in the video above. While liberals criticized Bush over real matters of policy, the fanatics of the right simply hate him. For the authoritarian right, to have a president who supports diplomacy and international cooperation as opposed to preemptive warfare and torture is unthinkable. Besides hating him as a person, they hate the American values he represents.

The award not only represents a repudiation of conservative views, but is contrary to their goals. While the Nobel Prize committee awarded this prize partially in the hopes that it will help promote Obama’s ideas and goals, failure on Obama’s part has become a top goal of the conservative movement.


  1. 1
    Clint says:

    I don’t think anyone could take a serious look at Obama’s record so far and decide that he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for it. I don’t even think you could award it based on his proposals, as they include expanding the military, escalating into Afghanistan and so on.
    He has certainly been a breath of fresh air for the world, but I think this award was given for different reasons. With big decisions upcoming on Afghanistan and climate change, I think the Nobel committee wanted to motivate Obama to pursue more humanitarian policies.
    I think they want him to feel compelled to earn it through future actions.

  2. 2
    Gib Wallis says:

    video puts the Nobel Peace Prize and the #Obama win in perspective. Hint: he didn't start working 1/21/09.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Quiet, you might ruin my plans for some future posts. For example, if I were to do a post on prosecution of those who authorized torture, in the future I might argue that this is the sort of thing which the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize should be expected to do.

    Considering how Obama’s election has changed the mood in the world, and considering many of the past winners, I think that Obama is an excellent choice. That does not mean that there are areas regarding pursuing peace, and justice in the waging of war, where Obama couldn’t use a bit of a push in the right direction.

  4. 4
    Gib Episode says:

    video puts the Nobel Peace Prize and the #Obama win in perspective. Hint: he didn't start working 1/21/09.

  5. 5
    Clint says:

    Heh, my apologies.
    I think you touched on a really good point there, which is that the past winners have not been pure and holy, either. I think myself (and most people) have a groundless, exaggerated notion of what the Nobel Prize should be given for. We think of Gandhi-esque figures.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    I would also add that it, while the award was primarily awarded for ideas as opposed to actual achievements, it is not correct that Obama has had no achievements. The key achievement is that, presenting his ideas in contrast to the ideas of Bush, Cheney, and McCain, he got elected President of the United States. That in itself is a real change, even if he doesn’t yet have much of a record in office.


  7. 7
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “We think of Gandhi-esque figures.”
    The following is from ‘Untouchables in the Twenty-First Century: The plight of Dalits in India’ by Dr. K. Jamanadas (published online on and in print in ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’):
    ‘It is incorrect to say that Gandhi was a friend of the Dalits, who consider him their number one enemy. He deprived Dalits of the political rights given by Communal Award by the British. To protest the separate electorates granted to Untouchables, he “fasted till death,” and to save his life, Dr. Ambedkar, the real savior of the Dalits, had to sign the Poona Pact, which did not include a provision for Dalit electorates. A Jain philosopher said about the glass of orange juice given to Gandhi to break his fast: “But this orange juice, this one glass of orange juice, contains millions of people’s blood.” Gandhi gave Dalits a new name, Harijan, which literally means ‘sons of god,’ but traditionally was applied by a Gujariti medieval saint to children of temple prostitutes. Gandhi once advised a Dalit graduate to scavenge in a better way, rather than take up a white-collar job.’
    Not even Gandhi was a Gandhi-esque figure.

  8. 8
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Dang. Checking out the link,  it’s very depressing to see how far Disinformation has fallen. It used to be a very good alternative journalism site, better than HuffPo is now, with serious writers. Now it’s just depressing.

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