Awakened early recently, President Obama was, no doubt, as surprised as were many citizens to learn he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He may have asked, "why me?" After all, President Wilson had to establish the United Nations and President Theodore Roosevelt ended the Russian-Japanese War before being accorded this prestigious award. The president knew he had not yet done anything on a scale worthy of a Nobel Prize because, on accepting, he said he was doing so as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people of all nations.
Only in office a short time, some felt the president got the prize for his gift of gab, his ability to shoot the bull, and Republican National Committee Chairman Steele felt President Obama won for awesomeness. Fidel Castro called the award positive but a repudiation of President Bush. Former U.N. Ambassador Bolton thought the prize should be for achievement, not effect. Some said Obama's choice devalued the award and made it less honorable.
The Nobel Committee explained that President Obama was chosen because of his message of hope, his desire for disarmament, his wish to strengthen international diplomacy and hold open dialogue with other world leaders. His interest in the environment and his seeking a world free of nuclear weapons were also factors.
So, there you are. Aren't these reasons enough? Reasons that overshadow a whole lot of unsolved domestic problems and involvement in two wars perhaps?
Maybe giving the president this prize only puts him on the hot seat. Can he make his message of hope come true in the face of all other problems he faces? Will he send more troops to Afghanistan? How will he deal with nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea? What will he do about our jobs, economy, health care and other domestic issues?
The president's star is shining brightly at this point in his term, but his achievements are not readily recognizable. His popularity has declined as citizens await positive solutions to serious problems.
In spite of views expressed, people are proud of the fact that an American president was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. We applaud this recognition for our country, and we pray President Obama will rise to his challenges and show the world why this choice was made at this time.
Most citizens do not want to see the president fail, and they may feel as does his Kenyan grandmother. She just wants him to be of good character and continue to work for world peace.
# # #
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.