WASHINGTON — Gee, you’d think a U.S. president who won the Nobel Peace Prize might get rave reviews from his party’s activists and polite congrats from top Republicans.
But news of Barack Obama’s award Friday drew a rebuke from the Republican Party chairman, ridicule from conservative bloggers, and even gripes from some liberals who think he hasn’t done enough to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Top Democrats congratulated Obama, of course, but critics abounded on the left and right.
“What has President Obama actually accomplished?” said Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee.
“It is unfortunate that the president’s star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights.”
There was praise from two Democrats who also have won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who won in 2002, called Obama’s selection a “bold statement of international support for his vision and commitment.”
And former Vice President Al Gore, who won two years ago, said Obama’s prize was “extremely well deserved.”
“I think that much of what he has accomplished already is going to be far more appreciated in the eyes of history, as it has been by the Nobel committee,” Gore said.
And some Republicans had kind words, too. “Under any circumstance an appropriate response is to say congratulations,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
But GOP Rep. Gresham Barrett, who is running for governor of South Carolina, mocked Obama’s prize. “I’m not sure what the international community loved best; his waffling on Afghanistan, pulling defense missiles out of Eastern Europe, turning his back on freedom fighters in Honduras, coddling Castro, siding with Palestinians against Israel, or almost getting tough on Iran,” Barrett said.
Several commentators challenged the value of the Peace Prize, noting that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat shared it in 1994.
“What’s Obama done?” asked Rick Moran in his blog on American Thinker, a strong advocate of Israel. “What peace has he negotiated? … I suppose an organization that thought Yasser Arafat worthy of the same prize can’t be taken seriously anyway. But they are.”
Erick Erickson, writing on the conservative RedState.com, suggested Obama won in part because he is black.
“I did not realize the Nobel Peace Prize had an affirmative action quota for it, but that is the only thing I can think of for this news,” Erickson wrote. “There is no way Barack Obama earned it in the nominations period.”
Obama himself said he felt humbled and undeserving, declaring in a Rose Garden statement: “I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments.”
The reaction was only slightly warmer on some liberal Web sites, where some writers said Obama should end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before being awarded such a prize.
To be sure, some groups and politicians gave Obama full-throated congratulations.
Global Zero, comprising political and military leaders from around the world, applauded Obama’s award, which was “in part based on his leadership to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons.”
Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, called the award “an affirmation of the fact that the United States has returned to its long-standing role as a world leader.”
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chastised the GOP’s Steele for his remarks, and noted that conservative activists had cheered when Obama failed last week to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago.
“I find it very very disappointing for the chairman of the Republican Party — after the cheers that went out when America lost the Olympics — to now be attacking our president, everyone’s president in our country, at a time when he is being recognized on the world stage,” Stabenow said.