YES! Editor Says “Yes” To Obama Nobel Prize

While many, the recipient included, were shocked, and others apoplectic or ecstatic over Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, at least one local makes an argument for why it’s justified.

Sarah van Gelder, executive editor at YES! magazine (based in Bainbridge Island) acknowledges that it is early in Obama’s presidency, but these are unusual times and the major challenges call for recognition of someone willing to change the previous American course on nuclear proliferation and global warming. From van Gelder:

“The people of the world have everything at stake in these two issues. It’s no wonder that the Nobel Peace Committee would want to encourage an embattled U.S. president who is trying to do the right thing. After eight years of neocon recklessness, there’s a lot of catch-up to do. President Obama has the goodwill of most of the world (with the notable exception of the Taliban, Rush Limbaugh, and a few others, who would defeat the U.S. president no matter what the cost).

“When I see this move on the part of the Nobel Committee, I see a world willing to give the U.S. a chance to be great–a world that’s actually desperate for real U.S. leadership on the crises that threaten us all.”

43 thoughts on “YES! Editor Says “Yes” To Obama Nobel Prize

  1. Except that Ms van Gelder seems to have missed the fact that the Prize is intended to *recognize accomplishments*, not to *encourage progress*. The two phrases have nothing in common. The four words that make them up have even less in common.

    But it is unsurprising that such confusion should arise in today’s culture where everyone gets a prize. Even if they just show up and fail to fall asleep.

    I am not a supporter of neither party (and in fact am deeply suspicious of all parties), but I am a student of history. It is abundantly clear that this award is a travesty of the original aims of the Prize. (Nor is it the first such.) Ms van Gelder makes it abundantly clear that she is not only not aware of the intent of the Prize, nor aware of history, nor aware of the lack of actual accomplishment by President Obama. She makes it equally abundantly clear that her only reason for supporting the award is because it ‘encourages’ the ‘right’ political beliefs – ones she agrees with. It’s a slap in the face of the “neocons” and nothing else matters.

  2. But see, this is what I don’t get:

    Sure, Obama has seemingly good intentions…but is that deserving of the Nobel Prize? I don’t mean this out of disrespect, but Obama has done very little if anything up to this point even worthy of such a prize. Personally, the way Bush handled 9/11 was more worthy of the prize than Obama’s forced rhetoric and celebrity status.

    Even I could step up to the plate and encourage people about the future so they feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But if I haven’t done anything about it, do I still get the prize because “at least he made us feel good?”

  3. Derek and Matthew,

    In another story, one of the five on the Nobel committee made it clear that this was not an award for what might happen, but what has happened.

    From the Washington Post story:

    On Friday, Thorbjorn Jagland, a former Norwegian prime minister who chaired the selection committee, rejected criticism that the panel had selected Obama more for his aspirations than his accomplishments. Critics, he said, underestimated the tangible changes Obama has already made in U.S. policy.

    “We are not awarding the prize for what may happen in the future but for what [Obama] has done in the previous year,” he said in Oslo.

    Matthew, on your second paragraph; I remember people making that same argument in 1986 about Ronald Reagan.

    Steven Gardner
    Kitsap Sun reporter

  4. Matthew,
    Can you please explain why G.W. Bush’s “handling of 9/11” could be worthy of consideration for a Nobel Peace Prize? Did I miss the sarcasm?

  5. Matthew said

    the way Bush handled 9/11 was more worthy of the prize

    Sorry to disagree, but pre-emptively invading a country that didn’t attack us on 9-11, that had little or nothing to do with those who did attack us on 9-11, and who (thanks to the UN sanctions) posed little or no direct threat to us is hardly grounds for awarding a peace prize.

  6. Jane: No, there was no sarcasm in my statement. I respect George Bush for his dedication to our country. He made some bad decisions, as all presidents do, and I’m not saying I agreed with everything he did while in office.

    But what was most admirable to me was his determination to keep America safe, bring freedom and supplises to countries that don’t have what we have (including Africa. He has done more for Africa than any president that ever lived) and prevent any attacks from happening on American soil again.

    In my opinion (remember…opinion…) Bush did what he felt was right and safe for this country. After 9/11, never again did we have any attack on American soil during his administration. That’s the president’s job: to keep us safe.

    Steven: Thanks for your response. Obama’s “accomplishments” are still vague to me and I still don’t see what he’s done to deserve the award, but in trying to compare this to Reagan: I’m pretty sure he didn’t win the Nobel Prize (even though he very much deserved it!) and HE was a man of action. He didn’t talk and talk and not “do”. Of course it’s still early in Obama’s presidency, but I’d like to see less talk show appearances and more critical work in the WH.

  7. Obama has done more than is acknowledged in his short time as President. A friend of mine rattled these off pretty quickly:

    1. Cut taxes for 98% of households.
    2. Signed a spending stimulus that even the Wall Street Journal acknowledges saved the economy from depression.
    3. Passed a budget loaded with progressive spending for education, health care, etc.
    4. Signed Cash for Clunkers, which provided a valuable stimulus to the auto companies and to the economy as a whole.
    5. Signed the Homeowners Mortgage Re-Adjustment Act, which made refinancing through Fannie and Freddie available to some underwater homeowners.
    6. Enacted the first time homebuyer tax credit, providing stimulus and support to the housing market.
    7. Signed the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, protecting women from a silly SCOTUS decision regarding sex discrimination in pay on the job.
    8. Signed a credit card regulatory act, prohibiting lots of unfair practices by credit card companies.
    9. Expanded S-Chip to provide healthcare coverage to more children.
    10. Extended unemployment benefits for unemployed workers.
    11. Subsidized COBRA payments for many recently unemployed workers so that such workers could keep their families insured through the worst of the recession.
    12. Managed and expanded TARP to rescue banks and free up credit (this isn’t popular but did as much to save the economy as the stimulus).

    Add to this health care reform legislation and climate change legislation, all within a year, and he’s doing pretty darn good.

    This is far more than George Bush accomplished in 8 years.

  8. Cameron, Now you do your own homework and list all of George Bush’s accomplishments. you listed a whole litany of liberal accomplishments. Great for a community organizer but not president of the United States.How about Iran and what to do with Afganastan. How about if he puts health reform on the back burner and let all parties come together with a good capitalistic approach. So basicially your response is he won because he is not George Bush

  9. After eight years of neocon recklessness, there’s a lot of catch-up to do. President Obama has the goodwill of most of the world (with the notable exception of the Taliban, Rush Limbaugh, and a few others, who would defeat the U.S. president no matter what the cost).

    Yep; that sort of thinking will “change the previous American course” and “give the U.S. a chance to be great”.

  10. For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed of my Norwegian heritage for their changed values leading to this years awarding the Nobel Peace Joke for nothing.

    I’ve occasionally wondered if the Norwegian people basic character qualities would change with the new generations of Norway’s now affluent government spoiled children.

    I’m sorry to know the answer. My Norwegian immigrant parents and grandparents must be rolling in their graves in shame.

    The one positive … I can now understand why NKSD hired a superintendent from Skagit who has almost bankrupted the school district there due to his lack of reasoning powers…worse, he blames his decisions on other folks.

    Sharon O’Hara

  11. Did the original article actually describe Obama as an “embattled” US President? Really — “embattled”? Scorecard…Democrats rule the House and Senate, the “embattled” US President has a rubber stamp & is assigned awards he so richly doesn’t deserve. Can a Heisman Trophy be next?

  12. Matthew,
    Reagan probably didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize because he sold arms to the Ayatollahs of Iran (you know, the ones conservatives are so angry about today?), and used the funds to sponsor terrorism in Central America.

  13. What I find the most fascinating about this story as a whole, is the fact that such a large stretch was made to find a, tenuous at best, “local” connection to validate covering it…but in the instance of the ACORN story significantly more time was spent explaining “why” a local connection could not be manufactured and how it would not be covered.

    The primary focus of my point is not the coverage or lack on either of those stories, but the increasing clamor by readers and blog participants to “Keep it Local” for coverage around here. Plenty of other venues for the National rhetoric.

    Mathew, I liked you as a reporter before and I really like you more than ever now:)

  14. In light of his recent Nobel Peace prize, here’s a few more eventual developments:

    The Vatican will bestow Obama with an honorary Popehood.

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will honor Obama with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

    The ACM (Assoc. for Computing Machinery)will name Obama winner of A.M. Turing Award for his tireless work in developing complicated algorithms

    Obama will donate his $1.4M Nobel prize money to a non-profit charity….Acorn

  15. Colleen: Very good point. I agree. And thank you, I just can’t keep silent! 😉

    Mr. Jacobson: My mom and I both laughed out loud at your comment! That was awesome!

  16. Pam, my response didn’t have anything to do with the Nobel Prize, but only to mention some of Obama’s accomplishments. Personally, I think the prize was premature. What difference does it make as to who came up with the list of accomplishments? Is that gripe simply a way to ignore them?

    As to your other comments: a capitalistic approach to health care? How’s that worked out so far? The health care reforms in consideration are all capitalistic in nature with some socialized medicine included (such as Medicare/Medicaid; TriCare; the VA). As to Iran, by ditching the missile shield, he softened our relationship with Russia, who is now more likely to take a hardened position on Iran’s nuclear program.

    Let’s also throw in the first Latino woman on the Supreme Court (and a highly qualified one at that); a much greater use of scientific advisers on scientific issues; a likely change in the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Seems like a good start to a Presidency.

  17. Colleen,

    I wrote a blog entry about ACORN before I wrote the one explaining why we weren’t covering it. And this piece was two paragraphs and pulling a quote. That’s hardly comprehensive. So I’ve written way, way more here about ACORN than about the Nobel prize.

    And I don’t agree that a local magazine editor’s piece on the Nobel is a “tenuous” local connection. Honestly, I don’t know as much about YES! as I should, because it has survived a few years, which in this publishing climate is admirable. The fact that van Gelder supported the award makes it more noteworthy, because most people, even Obama fans, were really shocked by the award. I mean he gets the Nobel prize, but can’t get a fake degree from Arizona State.

    Arizona State.

    Finally, we’re still digging a little on ACORN, because we’re finding there may be a local connection.

    Steven Gardner
    Kitsap Sun reporter

  18. Norway is a small, now rich country and needs alliances with larger, stronger countries…and may well have decided Obama would look at Norway with kind eyes after winning such a prize…wasn’t he nominated only two WEEKS after becoming President Obama?

    Will be interesting to discover the age range of the nominating committee.
    Sharon O’Hara…

    and it appears the latest health care bill won’t be read before a signing is expected.

  19. The five-member committee elected by the Norwegian Parliament to give out the peace prize are obviously going to have a libral slant. If you look at Norway itself, that is a pretty libral group of people.

    This was like the Oscars being handed out to Hollywood from Hollywood. Let’s just take it for what it is worth and move on.

  20. Moving on…why is President Obama trying to shut Fox up?
    Why would the White House get involved into -until now- used to be a country of Free Speech?

    Sharon O’Hara

  21. YES! would have more credibility if it admitted the award was premature and called for the Nobel Peace Committee to hold true to its original standards. This wouldn’t prevent it from singing the praises of Obama or adhering to progressive/liberal ideals.

    When the world or a nation is facing ‘major challenges’, it is principle which can set it back on course, not selecting bending rules for favoured persons or parties and wielding the Nobel Peace Prize as a weapon or punishment against those with whom we disagree.

    Ms. van Gelder apparently believes ‘desperate’ times call for desperate measures, and equates a decision which caters to this with ‘real leadership’.

  22. Colleen,

    Q. Why is President Obama trying to shut Fox up?
    A. Since asking a question is trying to shut someone up, you’re trying to shut the President.

    Obama isn’t trying to shut Fox up. That’s just another silly right-wing accusation.

    If Obama had really wanted to “shut Fox up”, he could have quoted the GOP’s new leader Rush Limbaugh at them:

    Somebody needs to stand up and say, “When you win the election, you pick the nominees. Until then, shut up! Just shut up! Just go away! Bury yourselves in your rat holes and don’t come out until you win an election.

    Now THAT is trying to shut someone up.

  23. Elliot… ….. …… Nevermind…. I can’t stop laughing at your last post long enough to respond. Oh wait… I caught my breath for a moment.

    A. Since asking a question is trying to shut someone up, you’re trying to shut the President.

    Q. Since I did not ask the original question Sharon did, I only cut and pasted it, with a couple of my suggestions to answer her added on, I find your logic on my supposed attempt to “shut (up) the president” to be just a little beyond flawed.

    Slow down my friend. You are leaving out words in your arguments and your tin foil hat is showing with your name calling ie..GOP labeling. Something of which you have accused me of wearing in the past. I know you are better than that when it comes to debating what the issue is here.

    The fact that both yourself and the White House are so outspokenly lathered up about Fox News choices in story coverage really validates that they are on the right track, asking the right questions and are onto something, less than honest, when it comes to this Administration.

  24. Colleen, Colleen, Colleen

    I find your logic on my supposed attempt to “shut (up) the president” to be just a little beyond flawed.

    LOL – I guess you forgot that you were the one who claimed that asking a question amounts to trying to shut someone up. Not me. You. So if you have a problem with the “logic” I used, remember that it was YOUR “logic”. LOL

    your tin foil hat is showing with your name calling ie..GOP labeling

    What name-calling would that be? Calling Rush Limbaugh the leader of the GOP? What would you call someone with so much power that the titular GOP party chairman was forced to apologize to him? By the way that “shut up” quote was taken verbatim from a Rush Limbaugh show in July 2005.

    Speaking of name-calling, I’m not “lathered up” at all. It’s actually mildly amusing watching you try to twist this.


    Main Entry: pro·pa·gan·da
    Pronunciation: \ˌprä-pə-ˈgan-də, ˌprō-\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: New Latin, from Congregatio de propaganda fide Congregation for propagating the faith, organization established by Pope Gregory XV †1623
    Date: 1718

    1 capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions
    2 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
    3 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect

  26. “Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mr. Steele’s counterpart at the Democratic National Committee, said: “Chairman Steele’s reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in Washington.”..”

    Good grief. A moment of verbal stupidity followed by a proper apology is construed as weakness by a governor.
    Political imagination seems to portray fantasy and life in neverland.
    I call an apology a decent thing to do.
    Sharon O’Hara

  27. Sharon,

    Re: “A moment of verbal stupidity”. Here is the verbatim comment that Steele made about Limbaugh:

    Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh — his whole thing is entertainment. He has this incendiary — yes, it’s ugly.

    Please tell me what was “stupid” about that.

    “I call an apology a decent thing to do.” == So do I, but that’s not the point. The point is that Limbaugh has so much power over the GOP that their chairman is not allowed to speak his mind about Limbaugh without being made to apologize for what I thought was a fairly innocuous statement.

  28. Elliott, when you can get yourself gathered back up again we can continue a reasonable discussion on the original topic of why this particular White House felt it necessary to negativly engage a specific very popular news organization on it’s national coverage.

    You have wandered way to far into a particular type of dialoge and rhetoric that I have rarely seen you use and for good reason.

    The same thing that you are saying about Steele and Limbaugh could be applied to say Obama when the Police Union applied pressure to him to correct HIS stament regarding the Crowley/Gates situation….

    excerpt from Washington Post…

    “I want to make clear that in my choice of words I think I unfortunately gave an impression that I was maligning the Cambridge Police Department or Sergeant Crowley specifically — and I could have calibrated those words differently,” Obama said. “And I told this to Sergeant Crowley.”

    So let’s apply what you said…

    The point is that the POLICE UNIONS have so much power over OBAMA, that HE is not allowed to speak his mind about the POLICE without being made to apologize for what I thought to be a fairly innocuous statement.

    Yeah…I see the point now.

  29. Here is the post from the Wall Street Journal outlining the demands of the Police Union…

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama tried to step back from the contretemps over the arrest of African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., saying he “could have calibrated” his words differently when he said police had “acted stupidly” in handling the situation.

    The president’s highly unusual appearance at press secretary Robert Gibbs’s daily briefing came just hours after Massachusetts police unions demanded that Mr. Obama apologize for implying racial bias may have been a factor when the Harvard professor was arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Obama personally telephoned the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, who in turn suggested that he, Mr. Gates and the president have a beer at the White House.

  30. Colleen,

    You really want to have a “reasonable discussion”?

    OK, then tell me what’s “reasonable” about claiming that “answering a question by asking another one” is the same thing as trying to shut someone up.

    Tell me what’s “reasonable” about saying “I can’t stop laughing at your last post long enough to respond. Oh wait… I caught my breath for a moment.”

    Tell me what’s “reasonable” about saying “your tin foil hat is showing with your name calling ie..GOP labeling”.

    Tell me what’s “reasonable” about accusing me of being “outspokenly lathered up”.

    Do you really consider those things to be “reasonable”? If so, then you have a much different definition of “reasonable” than I do.

  31. Elliott, we never agreed on the issues much and we almost never changed each other’s minds, but you used to be fun to debate the issues with. You used to be witty and at times self deprecating. That is reasonable to me.

    One thing I admired was your ability to really stick on the original topic in at least a part of each of your posts despite any distractions and outrageous bomb launching that would go on in a thread. And the fact that pointing out to you on occasion in the same language that you had previously used to point something out to me was acceptable. That is reasonable to me.

    I used to be able to come away from our conversations learning at least something from the other side’s perspective instead of just how to avoid the original topic and how to get personal. That is reasonable to me.

    So yeah.. you are right we are just too different on how we view “reasonable” now to even have any appreciation or fun with our disagreeing perspectives anymore. But these things happen….and that is also reasonable to me.

  32. My definition of “reasonable” is to talk about the issues, and not the other person. I try very hard to avoid things like “your tin foil hat is showing with your name calling ie..GOP labeling” and “I can’t stop laughing at your last post long enough to respond. Oh wait… I caught my breath for a moment”. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of refraining from name-calling and insults in this topic.

    In fact, all I did was ask one simple question: Since when is criticizing someone the same thing as “trying to shut them up”? Instead of answering, you accused me of trying to shut you up.

    Fox News is supposed to be a NEWS organization. That’s why they use the word “News”, isn’t it? But since Obama’s nomination and subsequent inauguration they have gone out of their way to denigrate him, to publicize scurrilous lies (he’s a Muslim, he was born in Kenya, he was closely aligned with Bill Ayers, he’s gonna kill granny, etc.). One Fox News personality accused him and his wife of engaging in a “terrorist fist-bump”. Another called him a racist. Another recently accused him of wanting to repeal the Declaration of Independence. Others regularly accuse him of being a socialist, a communist, and/or a fascist (the terms seem to be interchangeable). When Obama said that an uncle had been to one of the German concentration camps, they accused him of lying, instead of checking to see that it was actually his great uncle. Fox people accused Obama of all kinds of wrong-doing for trying to bring the Olympics to the US, and actually cheered when the Olympics were awarded to another country.

    Before you respond by saying, “but the other networks do it too”, let me remind you that what the other networks do is irrelevant to what Fox News does. Yes, what some of the other networks have done is wrong (especially MSNBC), but that does NOT justfy what Fox News is doing. Would you let one of your children get away with a lame exuse like “but mom, the other kids are doing it”? No, you wouldn’t, so don’t try it yourself.

    Now, if you want to discuss this like an adult instead of attacking me, here’s your chance. Prove my points wrong.

  33. Elliott dear…your double standard is showing.

    You Said: “Would you let one of your children get away with a lame excuse (excuse) like “but mom, the other kids are doing it”? No, you wouldn’t, so don’t try it yourself.”

    Have you listened to your own advice lately?

    Searching back through many of your comments on Kitsap Sun stories and on the blogs, I found numerous references to you admitting to laughing at posters and their comments (most of your conversations with a Dave person had some sort of reference to this behavior) and there was that one specific reference to me that my comment on one topic was quote…

    Elliott Says:
    October 27th, 2008 at 1:11 pm


    “Sorry, but that’s starting to fall into the tin-foil hat vast conspiracy area, in my opinion”

    As far as this….

    “In fact, all I did was ask one simple question: Since when is criticizing someone the same thing as “trying to shut them up”? Instead of answering, you accused me of trying to shut you up.”

    Show me the proof Elliott. Show me where I directly accused YOU of trying to shut me up in this conversation? My reference regarding answering one question with another was directed at what the White House is doing to AVOID answering questions from Fox News by turning around and questioning Fox News and their validity as a news organization. It would be rather “SILLY” (another word you apply frequently on the blogs to other bloggers) to assume that it was directed at you to shut up. Once again How Silly.

    So, in conclusion when I used the same type of language with you that you have used with me and others because I am just trying to follow your example here, all of a sudden it is wrong and attacking. That really smacks of a double standard.

    But you are right let’s get back to the issues.

    You said Fox News is supposed to be a NEWS organization. That’s why they use the word “News”, isn’t it? ”

    Ok. Yes, and I consider everything you have listed above about their coverage to be news to me. News on any Network or in any Newspaper does not always equal truth. Entertainment Tonight uses the word “News” in their program description…is that News? Is it always truth? Maybe not to me and not to you but maybe yes to somebody else. What is the definition of “News” really? Hey as a matter of fact that conversation just happened recently here on this very blog. A majority of the posters had a different definition of what “News” meant to them individually and what and how they wanted stories covered. So your definition of “News” is your own and not mine and not anybody else’s.

    You never answered my question about applying the same conclusion to the Obama apology that you applied to the Limbaugh apology. So I guess that means the Police Union is the White House’s new Leader by default.

    Not relevant what the other networks do? Thanks for proving an important point there for me. You only object to Fox News because it is Fox News. You have just openly admitted that you do not trust the other news organizations to stand up to any scrutiny when the same rules and standards, that you have suggested are applied. That is the best validation you could have given that Fox News is very necessary.

    Where ever did I say I justified everything Fox News does? The intent of the original question that has led to all of this, was why the White House or the Administration would prefer that Fox News “shut up” or go away? How does my answering that question with a couple of examples prove that I “justify” everything Fox News says or does? Try again.

    As far as the Olympics goes….Do we really need another taxpayer funded money losing venture in this country right now with the deficit being what it is? Heck Chicago can’t even keep their professional baseball team the Cubs in the black. That organization just filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday. How is Chicago supposed to manage the “Worlds” sports when their own house of sports is a real money losing mess? Slum lord Valerie Jarrett was in the number one position to profit greatly from land purchases that would have been made if the Olympics had been awarded to Chicago. Profited off the back of some of the poorest individuals in the city. These families are paying rent to her on properties she owns which are already partially condemned or scheduled to be condemned. Oh yeah Chicago insiders and leader have proven recently that they are as pure as driven snow when it comes to conducting the cities business. Right Mr. Blogovich?

  34. Colleen,
    You said:

    Elliott dear…your double standard is showing

    When you start off a post with personal attack like that, I see no reason to read further or to respond to it. When you’re actually interested in meaningful adult discussion, let me know.

  35. “Limbaugh has so much power over the GOP that their chairman is not allowed to speak his mind about Limbaugh without being made to apologize for what I thought was a fairly innocuous statement….”

    Elliot…Since you weren’t the one who made the statement, then apologized for making it, what you think about it doesn’t matter.

    The chairman is an adult politician and I doubt that he was so intimidated by fear of Limbaugh and his supposed power over the party that he forced himself to apologize.

    Fox News (Ch 13) happened to be the ONLY station interested in covering COPD Month some years ago…the main stream – Ch..5, 4 and 7 didn’t even have the courtesy to say ‘No’ when I notified them. Fox News is interested in the facts, it seems…not just popular and money producing medicine news.

    The recent Acorn shame and lack of mention from mainstream media and now the White House attack on Fox News should alert us all to the obvious government bias against a station they can’t control…one still practicing the eroding American Free Speech policy.
    In my opinion… Sharon O’Hara

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