It is absurd and it is embarrassing. It would even be infuriating if it were not such a declaration of emptiness.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has embarrassed itself and cheapened a great award that had real meaning.
It was a good thing, the Nobel Peace Prize. Every year the giving of it was a matter of note throughout the world, almost a matter of state. It was serious. It mattered that it was given to a woman like Mother Teresa in 1979. She had lived for 30 years with the poorest of the poor; she and her Missionaries of Charity dressed their wounds, healed their illnesses, and literally carried them from the streets to mats and beds in a home where they would at least have in death the thing they had not had in life, someone to care for them. She didn't just care for them, she did the hard thing: She loved them. Her life was heroic, epic, and when she was given the Nobel Peace Prize, it was as if the world were saying, "You are the best we have. You are living a life that should be emulated."
Nelson Mandela was unjustly imprisoned for 27 years, and he came out without bitterness. There's a hero for you. He preserved his faith and that of his countrymen that together they could make their nation better, more decent and humane. He lived a life of moral and political struggle, broke the old chains that had bound South Africa. At the end he was a literal inspiration to the world.
Some Peace Prizes have been more roughly political, or had a political edge, and were of course debatable. Woodrow Wilson, self-infatuated after World War I, had little patience with those who foresaw that the Peace of Versailles would lead to more war, and did not understand or know the political realities and deeper nature of his own countrymen. And so his League of Nations flopped in America, the one place where it absolutely had to succeed. But--well, he helped end "the war to end all wars," issued his Fourteen Points, did try to make the world better. Ferocious Teddy Roosevelt, that progressive and bloody-minded man, worked hard to forge a truce and a peace between the czar's Russia and Japan.
More deeply into the political life of the 20th century, there were Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, and their Peace Prizes were what they were. But each man had a body of work; each had devoted considerable time and effort to a great issue. It was always absurd that Ronald Reagan, whose political project led to the end of the gulag and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and who gambled his personal standing in the world for a system that would protect the common man from annihilation in a nuclear missile attack, could not win it. But nobody wept over it, and for one reason: because everyone, every sentient adult who cared to know about such things, knew that the Nobel Peace Prize is, when awarded to a political figure, a great and prestigious award given by liberals to liberals. NCNA--no conservatives need apply. This is the way of the world, and so what? Life isn't for prizes.
Yet even within that context, the giving of the peace prize to President Obama is absurd. He doesn't have a body of work; ... (continues here at WSJ)