An Ignoble Nobel?

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Oct. 7 2005 5:18 PM

An Ignoble Nobel?

A new Nobel laureate for peace has bloggers in an uproar. They also debate a study by Democratic strategists about the relative strength of the party and continue to consider the nomination of Harriet Miers for Supreme Court justice. 

An ignoble Nobel?: The Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded today to the International Atomic Energy Association and its head, Mohammed ElBaradei. ElBaradei, who has opposed the United States on several key questions of nonproliferation, said the award affirmed "the role of multilateralism in resolving all of the challenges we are facing today."

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"There is little doubt that the [award] is a direct swipe at the Bush administration," writes foreign-policy strategist Nancy Soderberg at liberal salon TPMCafe. "Earlier this year, Washington tried to remove El Baradei from his post—he had warned that there was no imminent threat in Iraq and pushed the administration toward a more realistic approach toward Iran." Soderberg sees the award as indirect comeuppance for a job poorly done. "Despite the very real threat that the next terrorist attack could involve weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration has spent the last 4 and a half years undermining the very regimes that could keep Americans safe," she writes.

Others believe the prize demonstrates clear problems with the Nobel committee. "Mohammed El-Baradei and the IAEA have received the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize for helping North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan build up clandestine nuclear arsenals as deterrents to war," jeers omnivorous Houston blogger Laurence Simon of IFOC News. Other conservatives respond with equal parts incredulity and cynicism. "I was under the impression that prizes, especially the most prestigious ones, are supposed to reward success and remarkable achievements," writes political science student Emmanuel Schiff. "I was wrong. As it turns out, inaction and repeated failures may not prevent a person and/or organization from winning."

"This completes the transformation of the Nobel Peace Prize into a politically-motivated sideshow, with no connection whatsoever to reality," writes conservative firebrand Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs. At roundtable The Corner, National Review kingfish John Podhoretz calls the award "scandalous," if predictably so.

Read more about the Nobel.

Eyes on 2008: A study by William A. Galston and Elaine C. Kamarck, two former Clinton strategists, suggests that recent liberal efforts to mimic the GOP by emphasizing ideological contrasts to energize the party's liberal base is a quixotic strategy more likely to lead Dems out of office than into power.

"I hate these kind of reports," writesTalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt, who thinks the success of a rightist minority suggests corresponding opportunities for progressives to push the electorate to the left rather than the center. "Who cares whether Democrats win if they are just Republicans in sheep's clothing?" she asks.

At Political Animal, liberal Kevin Drum argues that, despite significant shifts in voting patterns toward the GOP, "Americans haven't become any more conservative over the past three decades. Nor has the activist base of the Democratic party become more liberal. Rather, it's the activist base of the Republican party that's gotten more extreme," he says (and he's got a chart that he says proves it). "In other words, contra Galston and Kamarck, the liberal base is not really the problem a lot of people make it out to be. It's the Republican base that's far outside the mainstream," he says. "And yet, Republicans keep on winning anyway. But why?" He promises relevant guest-blogging next week.

Conservatives, however, tend to think the study is right on the money. "[P]eople like Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer, who lecture the Bush administration and its judicial nominees for being out of the 'mainstream' have themselves abandoned mainstream thought some time ago," suggests formidable conservative Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters. "A motivated GOP base easily outstrips a motivated Democratic base—and therefore the Democrats need to beat the Republicans for the center," he observes. "In other words, the DNC picked the worst possible national figure for its chair that they possibly could select."