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No Noble Prize for America’s Top Pundits

A few weeks back, at the height of the Nobel Peace Prize brouhaha, I wrote a short column for a Washington Post (yes, that Washington Post) “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest. I wasn’t selected as one of top ten finalists … think it had anything to do with my slamming one of the Post’s own top columnists? Nah, me either. Just better writers out there! Anyway — here’s the column I submitted to them; know it’s no longer timely, but … take a gander anyway and comment if you like (or don’t like!).

The Washington Post received nearly 5,000 submissions to America's Next Great Pundit contest.

The Washington Post received nearly 5,000 submissions to America's Next Great Pundit contest.

Less than Noble-Prize Behavior from America’s Top Pundits

If the Norwegians gave an award for miserly-hearted writers – the Nobel Prize for Petty Punditry, perhaps? — they’d have an abundance of Americans from which to choose, awash as we are with self-righteous columnists outraged over the news that their president, Barack Obama, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thomas Friedman, of the New York Times, wrote that the prize “has been devalued” by its conference on Obama. Ross Douthat, also of the Times, asserted that Obama should have turned it down. And Charlie Krauthammer, of the Washington Post, called the selection of Obama “comical.”

With their uncharitable words, Friedman et al reflect what Americans have become in our meaner moments: a people lacking in good will and manners, using our various pulpits – microphones at town hall meetings, reality-show hair-pulling, and lofty positions at the nation’s best papers – to scorn and berate.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the award, instead of denigrating our president in front of the world, instead of whining that the prize was politically motivated or undeserved, instead of insisting that it should only be given for accomplishment and not for potential, why not ask what can we do to help Obama– and our nation – become the agents of peace this prize so generously predicts? Might we not celebrate the esteem Obama has earned abroad and bask in its implied applause for the public who voted him into office?

Much remains to be done by the Obama administration. But have we forgotten where we were less than two years ago — ridiculed and despised on the world stage and desperate for someone to believe in at home?

Barack Obama’s person, if not yet his presidency, has already accomplished something extraordinary by renewing a spirit of possibility in his own country. That spirit traveled ‘round the globe the night he was elected and people on all continents rejoiced along with us. They rejoiced because they felt hopeful, and that hope jump-started the beginning of a return of respectful foreign relations and enabled the first steps to be taken in the slow process of rebuilding America’s stature as a world leader.

It’s no small feat to inspire hope across a global playing field. For that alone, the Nobel Peace Prize was rightly bestowed. Our nation’s wordsmiths on high might want to give some thought as to what it is, precisely, that they are inspiring.

Posted on November 2nd, 2009Comments RSS Feed
11 Responses to No Noble Prize for America’s Top Pundits
  1. John W. Perkins
    November 2, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    “It’s no small feat to inspire hope across a global playing field. For that alone, the Nobel Peace Prize was rightly bestowed.”

    So then, using that line of thought I should be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature since I can read and write and have been known to irk many with my ability. And, might even produce a riveting best seller sometime down the road.

  2. well, that’s a bit of slippery slope reasoning, john, but heck, i’d send a vote your way!

  3. Excellent column, MC.
    It’s always a shame when readers miss the point
    over the personality.

    write on!

  4. Thanks for reading, Doug — how’s the bookstore business?

  5. Kissenger,Schweitzer,Mother Teresa,Lech Walesa,Desmond Tutu,Ellie Weisel ,Mandela and Obama.After 10 months in office he gets the NPP for extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples????Oh I forgot they gave it to Arafat years ago too.I liked your column MC and know where you are coming from but this prize to be given to him now is a bit early don’t you think?Sure the world hates us because of W and his ridiculous cowboy mentality but with all of Obama’s schmooze countries still hate us and don’t trust us at all.Only time will tell.

  6. Thanks for commenting Steve — I was limited to 400 words for that column but if I’d had more space I would have addressed the issue of “deserving” or meriting such an award. My column was really more focused on the fact that since it was a fait accompli by a foreign entity — why not be gracious about it? i could see all the sturm und drang if it had been an American-based award, but it wasn’t.

    i hope the award was prescient at least.

  7. Being held hostage in a Blue State
    November 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

    If the act of being elected President creating a Spirit of Possibility (SOP) morphs into the receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize so be. Being a popular does not ensure success when tasked with the issues at hand.

    Does everyone still maintain that same level of SOP when comparing the person to his actions? Especially regarding:

    Your ability to obtain H1N1 vaccine
    Obtaining Health Care Coverage
    Ending the war in IRAQ
    Ending the Afghanistan War
    Closing of Guantanamo Bay
    Eliminating Don’t ask don’t tell
    Eliminating the Defense of Marriage Act

    I guess he’ll be considered for a second NPP if he accomplishes any of the above in the next 3 years.

  8. Ah, welcome back BHH!

  9. Being held hostage in a blue state
    November 6, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    What no witty reparte ?? Thanks for the”big shout out” I guess you have taken a page from the playbook of the Prsident

  10. No, no witty repartee, BBH, though, yes, of course, I’m witty and full of repartee — that goes without saying almost, i’m sure. but, to point: when comparing a person — a person’s character, the sum of his or her life, to that individual’s actions — well, it’s a complex agenda. and that’s why i didn’t quibble so much with the norwegians’ accolade. it’s all subjective. praise, adoration, exaltation. love, a crush. respect. what we admire in a man or woman is so sublimely inarticulate, after all. i admire obama for reasons that i’m sometimes hard-pressed to speak about. there are also things i don’t like so much. but he’s smooth, confident, sometimes cocky, good-looking, a sweet dresser, and an elegant speaker. more importantly, i think his brain and his heart are in the right place. i’m fine with a nobel going to someone like that. heck, i’d like to meet someone like that in my own life and if i did, i’d be inclined to give him a prize as well — maybe not a nobel, but certainly something worth accepting.

  11. Being held hostage in a blue state
    November 7, 2009 at 7:22 am

    when it comes to overlooking the President’s
    inability to make a decision and superanuated
    boy scout image you are full of something for sure


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