October 9th, 2009
03:07 PM ET

Obama wins one for America

President Obama delivers remarks at the White House on Friday after winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama delivers remarks at the White House on Friday after winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Paul Begala
CNN Contributor

When President Obama received word that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize, I'll bet he felt a little like I did the first time Diane Friday, the smartest, prettiest girl at the University of Texas, kissed me: I didn't fully feel like I deserved it, but I sure wasn't going to turn it down.

For an American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize can only be good for the U.S. The Republican right needs to understand that and not repeat its performance of last week.

When America lost the Olympics, right-wingers cheered. They cheered a defeat for America; now watch them boo a victory for America. Bad manners, guys. If you pride yourself on being a super-patriot, you really ought to root for America.

Why did the Nobel committee give the peace prize to someone who hasn't even been in office for a year? Perhaps to move Obama as he ponders a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps to encourage the parties in the Middle East peace process. Perhaps to strengthen Obama's hand as he rallies the civilized world to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program.

Who the heck knows? But I know this: If the right-wingers all look like they've sucked the same lemon as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, they're going to alienate the American people.

As soon as the peace prize was announced, the attacks began - from Hamas and the Taliban. The American right does not want to be repeating the terrorists' talking points.

At the same time, progressives need to be careful. Team Obama must guard against hubris - the chief occupational hazard of the White House. Liberals must remain grounded in the hard realities: Our European allies are still not committing enough troops to Afghanistan; the Chinese and Russians are still squeamish on Iranian sanctions; the dollar is still under pressure; the economy is still on life support. Triumphalism is not exactly in order. There's also the risk that liberals are seen as preferring the approval of distant Scandinavian elites to Middle Americans.

Still, coming after the humiliating loss of the Olympics, and in the midst of a world of crises, the Nobel Peace Prize is no doubt a welcome pick-me-up for Obama. The right should celebrate it, and the left should smile graciously, applaud our president and get back to work.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Democrats • Republicans
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. V Brown

    When will America give the respect Mr. President Obama deserves?. Why can we as a country try to bring back the respect that being an American had. Hate will never drive out hate, only love can do that. I know he deserves the honor bestowed on him, and I say Mr. President enjoy it. What you have done for the country there is no Gratitude for it instead its the constant watching him as if he is perfect. The lord was not perfect so how could man be! CONGRATULATIONS.

    October 9, 2009 at 8:22 pm |
  2. Mari


    Now, sir, PLEASE END the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq!

    We will not eradicated terrorism with war. We must win the hearts and minds of Muslims, and convince them that the terrorists are the evil ones.

    " Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars..... Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." - Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    October 9, 2009 at 7:27 pm |
  3. Thadd, Dallas, Texas

    The Committee is neither Republicans nor Democrats. They saw something in Obama that they liked and acted accordingly. Why can't we just enjoy the moment and have one day of peace? Just one day!!

    October 9, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  4. Renee

    I think it's wonderful that President Obama won the award. It's so striking that we have gone from a President who used war and threats at every turn to one who uses diplomacy and is very thoughtful, thorough and smart about any decisions to put our soldiers in harms way. I congratulate him and am so thankful to him for handling the mess he's inherited.

    October 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  5. sharon

    I personally am very proud that our American president will be nationally recognized for attempting to accomplish peace and civility withother countries and leaders with whom we share this Earth. For too long prior to this administration, the United States leadership has been the brunt of jokes and humility concerning their lack of morals and character and their woefully deficient leadership skills and abilities. If there is a moment that I am indeed proud to be an Amercian, yes, an African American as well, it is now.

    October 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  6. Susan

    It sure can't hurt the American people that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. It's a committee that chose the winner, and unless he nominated himself, it is an honor for the United States. It's telling how patriotism in some people only goes as far as their political leanings.

    October 9, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  7. gail

    Congratulations to our President, Barack Obama! This prize was awarded because of the premium that our President puts on diplomacy and peace. The fact that we are at war is not a contradiction of this award which is not given for pacifism, but for and to people that strive for peace between and for all peoples of the world. I am as proud of him in his recognition as I am of the humility in which he accepted and said that he shared it with the American people. God Bless!

    October 9, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  8. TwIceGirl28

    I think it's hard for Republicans to face that, at the worst, Obama won the Award because of Bush. Finally! Something to thank old George for!

    October 9, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  9. chris

    Good job obama with your win

    October 9, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  10. Marlon

    Wow this piece is right on the nose of what everyone should think. We as americans no matter what party or other beliefs we have, we are still americans and that is the final word. If you don't believe then ask yourself what else american do you not believe in.

    October 9, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  11. Karen-San Diego

    My first reaction was one of suprise this morning after hearing the President had won the Peace Prize. My first thought was how the GOP would re-act and they certainly did not disappoint. As usual, like clockwork, on target came their searing and hatefilled attack. So they, Limbaugh, and the Taliban agree one attacking the President over this. While some feel he did not deserve it "yet", and others say he has done nothing, I disagree.
    Congratulations for inspiring the world to change, Barack Obama. Congratulations and thank you for inspiring me to become involved in the process of making America a better place.

    October 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  12. rachel

    quit seperating everybody by liberals or conservatives...some of us are right dab in the middle and tend to not like any kind of political terms to identify people b/c all that really does is tell the middle roaders who you really are...a flaming liberal name calling the conservatives...

    good point, this is a win for the USA!

    October 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  13. Julie


    The world LOVES us again!!!!!!


    October 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  14. Stewart McFerran

    Peace is an ideal that needs to be worked toward at all times. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to those who are working toward peace. Not one of the recipients of the the Noble Peace Prize has achieved world peace.

    October 9, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  15. Mike

    President Obama might deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts and ideas in a couple years, but not yet. To give him an award that is so highly respected the world over for his "opinion" and not results I hate to say tarnishes what this award represents. I hope Mr. Obama can prove he deserved it.

    October 9, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  16. Mary Roberts

    I am so proud of our country, and it's wonderful that other nations are regarding us so highly. Obama hasn't been in office a long time, and it does seem a little premature, but... one can't deny that his theme of 'Yes We Can!', and the immediate feeling of hope that swept across our country, and the globe, when he won, were incredible. I think it would be an insult for him to turn down the award, and a slap in the face to all those who voted for him.

    October 9, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  17. Isabel Siaba

    Congratulations to President Obama by the Novel Peace. This is also a prize for the American people and for all the people in general!

    October 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  18. Kim

    Obama and his administration do have a talent for speeches and ideas with solutions that motivate and unite for action. Why was the loss of the Olympics humiliating ? Win some,lose some and disappointment sure, but there is nothing " humiliating" when one tries.to unite for the common good. 40,000 troops to Afghan ? Nuclear Inspection Oct. 25th in Iran. To the negative and political skeptical,that don't think Obama deserves his award bet he proves you wrong ! It'll be a surprise !

    October 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  19. Jeannette Kucan

    I was shocked when I heard Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. In my opinion he did not deserve this honor. The fallen soldiers are the ones who should have won.This is another embarrasing moment for the USA. Obama can talk the talk alright but that's about it. Until we don't have constant threats against us, killing of our soldiers each and everyday.Maybe then I can say yea he accomplished many great deeds.Until then I will keep praying for world peace.

    October 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Guil Almeida

    Simply put, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for using diplomacy as his main weapon in trying to deal with world problems, contrary to his predecessor who used weapons as his diplomacy to deal with the same issues.

    October 9, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  21. JC- Los Angeles

    This win just reconfirms that in today's world whether you're a politician, a corporate executive, a member of the losing team or any other stiff, you will be handsomely rewarded for accomplishing nothing.

    Until rewards are tied to ethical accomplishments, the global economy will continue to deterioriate at an alarming rate.

    October 9, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  22. Andrew Huneycutt

    I think it is great that Pres. Obama was recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. He has made great efforts abroad. I do however find it disapointing it comes within the same week as he refuses to meet with the Dalai Lama, one of our generation's greatest peace makers. I would be very embarrased.

    October 9, 2009 at 3:18 pm |
  23. Cindy

    How is this wining one for America? It actually makes us look stupid because we are involved in two wars which Obama is in charge of yet here he is with a peace prize in one hand and commanding troops with the other to kill people! How is that great? Yeah, that's peace alright!

    Plus it shows the fact that the man does nothing but talk and has not accomplished one thing. But yeah..OK..he's REALLY deserving. PFFT!!


    October 9, 2009 at 3:16 pm |