At almost every Jewish wedding I have attended (40-50 annually), immediately after the first dance, a chorus, often led by the (occasionally off-key) newlywed husband, serenades the new wife with a rousing rendition of Eishet Chayil, the paean to the Jewish woman, wife and mother found in Proverbs, Chapter 31. And I usually think to myself: “Really ? ‘A woman of valor’ ? Already ? Shouldn’t the husband at least wait until she cooks a meal, or performs some other wifely function, or at least he gets to know her a little better – before pronouncing her in front of hundreds of people an “eishet chayil” ? It seems just a tad premature, an exercise in wishful thinking.
Well, perhaps not. President Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his work on behalf of…his diplomatic initiative in…for bringing peace to… I am not quite sure. It is quite a mystery. Certainly, he has made some nice speeches, and has articulated a vision – albeit unrealistic, even slightly preposterous – of world disarmament, universal peace, and friendship among all nations (he is a little light on the freedom and democracy talk), but shouldn’t a prize carry the expectation of some accomplishment in the field in question ? Doesn’t the baseball MVP actually have to play the game ?
Usually, one would not bestow a prestigious art award on someone who has a fine canvas and a variety of paints but has not yet painted anything, nor would we declare a child who has just learned aleph-bet a “Gaon.” It is also appropriate – and healthier – to wait until bananas actually turn yellow before consuming them. This must be different.
Most other Peace awardees have actually achieved something in the area of peace and diplomacy, rather than merely spoken about the subject. Contrast Obama with the only two other American presidents to win the Peace Prize while still in office: Theodore Roosevelt (1906, for negotiating the end to the Russo-Japanese War of 1905) and Woodrow Wilson (1919, for his Fourteen Points, and his creation of the League of Nations at the Versailles Peace Conference at the conclusion of World War I. President Obama take note: Congress wasn’t as impressed, and refused to ratify America’s participation in the League).
Say what you will, but those were accomplishments. Ditto most of the other honorees, even though some had a debatable connection to “peace” (Al Gore, in 2006, for sounding a shrill, unending alarm on global warming ?). Even Jimmy Carter (2002), who was associated with a host of disreputable causes, at least did something. Is there an anticipatory award, a motivational award ? None that I am aware of.
Certainly, the Nobel Peace Prize has made some dubious choices. The trio of Rabin, Peres and Arafat (!) won the 1994 award, just in time for Arafat to escalate his terror war against Israel that lasts until today. But at least they had an impressive signing ceremony. This ? I must be missing something.
Some of it is anti-Bush (as in Cater and Gore), some of it is reflexive European satisfaction at Obama’s constant apologizing for America’s perceived sins, some of it might be the hope that Obama follows through on his rhetoric, and some of it might be a preemptive strike to induce Obama not to send more troops to Afghanistan, not to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and to abandon Iraq prematurely. Or perhaps, with the world at war in so many places, there were no other choices that were meaningful – like there were none from 1939-1943, and so no award was given then. Unlike now. But a new standard has been set: maybe next year Ahmadinejad will win the Nobel Peace Prize for not using his nuclear weapons anywhere. The bar has been set very low.
The real question is: where can Obama go from here ? He might be peaking too soon. Now might be the time for his diehard supporters to seek a repeal of the 22nd Amendment that currently limits a president to only two terms and therefore was clearly racist in intent (it preceded the civil rights movement by more than ten years.). Many feel he is the Messiah – he himself jokes about it – so his only promotion is to the deity. Of course, he can win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award this year, because he talks such a good game. His failure to join a team is a technicality. The world loves him, far more than the American people.
Fortunately, the Nobel people have the capacity to honor him for years into the future. Extrapolating from today’s award, it is clear that Obama should win the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature (he has written two fine books – about himself, but fine books); the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine (for his achievements in the field of health care, whether or not his reforms pass); the 2012 Nobel Prize for Science for successfully shifting the alarm from “global warming” to “climate change” (which I have actually experienced in my Succa from the beginning of the holiday until today); and, of course, the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics for his most novel theories: health care for all while reducing costs, jobs for all while reducing the deficit, spending money that one does not have as a sign of compassion, and – the most classic – demonstrating how a government takeover of the economy brought prosperity to America and the world.
And a permanent, annual award for bringing hope and change to mankind. Congratulations !