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End of Obamamania? Europe’s Tepid Reaction to Obama’s Nobel

After elevating Obama to cult-of-personality status, Europeans now turn against him.

by
Soeren Kern

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October 11, 2009 - 12:00 am
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European newspapers have reacted to Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize with a mixture of incredulity and skepticism. Almost without exception, newspapers across the continent (and political spectrum) are saying the award to Obama is premature and undeserved.

For many people, that conclusion seems perfectly reasonable. But coming from Europe’s sycophantic media establishment, which has spent the last two years worshiping Obama as a messianic figure, such a reaction represents a sea change in sentiment toward Obama. Is Obama’s European star finally falling to earth?

What follows is a brief review of what some of the major European newspapers are saying about Obama’s Nobel:

  • The London-based Economist magazine, which endorsed Obama for president, writes: “But is the award premature? Although the prize may be given in the spirit of encouraging Mr. Obama’s government, it might have been better to wait for more solid achievements. With so many good intentions, and so many initiatives scattered around the world (and an immensely busy domestic agenda, including health-care reform and averting economic collapse), Mr. Obama appears to be racing around trying everything without yet achieving much.”
  • The left-wing Guardian, in an analysis titled “Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize: Why Now?”, writes: “The reality is that the prize appears to have been awarded to Barack Obama for what he is not. For not being George W Bush. Or rather being less like the last president. The question now is whether having being anointed perhaps too early by the committee, a Nobel prize earned so cheaply and at so little cost will help him in his efforts on the international stage or rather be an albatross around his neck. Something against which all his future efforts will be judged — and perhaps found wanting.”
  • The left-wing Independent, in a commentary titled “This award is premature — and potentially very foolish,” writes that Obama: “ … should have refused the award, politely saying that he was flattered and, while appreciating the motivation, was as yet unworthy of such distinction. Instead, he is once again lauded for his symbolism and potential rather than his actual deeds. One day, he might be a worthy winner. But not today.”
  • Elsewhere in the Independent, in an article titled “The real world has little time for prizes”: “Yes, he’s made those fancy speeches … But, as they say in American politics, where’s the beef? … Obama’s prize is a final, gratuitous shot at George W. Bush (remember him?).”
  • The Financial Times, in an editorial titled “Urgency of Now?”, argues that the Nobel committee is “trapped in an adolescent adulation of Mr. Obama that, if once shared by many, most have put behind them. Its continuing desire to flatter a particular tendency in U.S. politics — Al Gore and Jimmy Carter are recent laureates — risks painting it as an annex to the left wing of the U.S. Democratic party.”
  • In France, the center-right Le Figaro, in a commentary titled “Disservice to Obama,” writes: “Should we abolish the Nobel Peace Prize? We ask the question after Barack Obama was awarded the prize on Friday. This decision, which oozes political correctness, was a very bad idea.”
  • The center-left Le Monde, in a commentary titled “The Meaning of the Nobel,” writes that the Nobel committee “justified their choice in language worthy of worst-UN diplomatic rhetoric.” It argues that the prize should have gone to “brave Russians or Chinese who are fighting for liberty in their own countries.”
  • In Switzerland, the Basler Zeitung, in an editorial titled “Nobel Prize: For What?”, writes: “It is quite bizarre. President Barack Obama has just won the Nobel Prize. It is not clear why. Because he has made peace, a kind of peace, with Hillary Clinton? … Strictly speaking, the whole thing is really postmodern: A person can now win the Nobel Peace Prize when he says he hopes for peace sometime in the future. But he is not obligated to do it. The intent is sufficient. Great.”

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