Republicans Scoff at Nobel Prize Announcement

By Michael D. Shear and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 9, 2009; 1:43 PM

President Obama's Republican adversaries reacted with swift disbelief to news that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, with many in the party scoffing that the accolade was hardly justified by a record they described as incomplete at best.

"I think this may be way too preliminary," Republican strategist Ed Rollins told CNN moments after the prize was announced.

"At the end of four years, maybe he has accomplished something and deserves it," he added. "I think it has diminished the award itself. I think certainly you have to give him an 'A' for trying, but at the end of the day, what has he accomplished? Who on the world stage are his allies at this point in time?"

In an official statement, the Republican National Committee said: "The real question Americans are asking is, 'What has President Obama actually accomplished?' It is unfortunate that the president's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights. One thing is certain -- President Obama won't be receiving any awards from Americans for job creation, fiscal responsibility or backing up rhetoric with concrete action."

Obama's worldwide celebrity became a campaign issue last year, after his Republican opponent, Arizona Sen. John McCain, produced sneering ads describing him as "the One" and comparing him to the Messiah.

The McCain ad ran after then-candidate Obama toured Europe, promising an open hand to the world and a break from the cowboy-style diplomacy he accused then-President George W. Bush of practicing. And for a time, the ad worked, raising questions about whether Obama's promises were just lofty rhetoric.

Friday morning, several people who worked in the Bush White House said the choice of Obama -- lauded by the Nobel committee for, among other reasons, his call for a nuclear-free world -- primarily represented a condemnation of the Bush era. Some Republicans pointed to concrete gains Bush made in reducing the nuclear stockpile during his two terms in office -- he cut the supply by more than half -- as evidence that the Nobel committee had made its judgment based on politics rather than solid facts.

"The Nobel committee couldn't vote in our 2008 elections, so they decided to vote this year," said John R. Bolton, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Bush administration. He dismissed the award as "another reflection of the politicization of the peace prize that we've seen for decades now."

Bolton, who also served as Bush's undersecretary of state for arms control, noted that Bush also worked for -- and achieved -- a reduction in nuclear arms. "There was a long record, but they were never going to give it to Bush," Bolton said. "President Reagan called for a world without nuclear weapons; where was his Nobel peace prize?"

Michael Gerson, a former Bush speechwriter, said: "At first I thought the announcement of the prize was a joke. On further reflection, the Nobel Committee has made itself a joke. It has decided to give a ribbon before the race, a trophy for aspiration, a gold star for admirable sentiments."

Asked for his thoughts, Republican strategist Todd Harris, who has worked for several GOP presidential campaigns, was snide.

"Thoughts on what? The moon invasion? The new season of 'The Office?' Or the joke that the Nobel folks just became?" Harris said. "Like most liberals, the Nobel Committee seems to think that Obama's pretty words are a perfect substitute for him actually doing something. But if pretty words alone could provide leadership, then why not just give the presidency and the Peace Prize to a Hemingway novel?"

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