Obama Peace Prize Highlights Clinton's Lack Thereof

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 9, 2009; 8:46 PM

Pity poor Bill Clinton.

He helped promote peace in Northern Ireland (although the guys directly involved won the Nobel Peace Prize). He devoted more hours to achieving a Middle East peace deal than any other U.S. president (although the effort was ultimately unsuccessful). And after he left the White House, he created the Clinton Global Initiative, which some might view as a transparent effort to win a Nobel, with its emphasis on bringing together the private sector and nongovernmental organizations to combat global problems. (The group's Web site even touts the involvement of 14 Nobel Peace Prize winners.)

But since Clinton left the presidency, three Democrats with whom he has had testy relations have all won the honor: Jimmy Carter (in 2002), Al Gore (his vice president, in 2007) and now President Obama.

Indeed, although Carter issued warm words of congratulations to Obama at 9 a.m. and Gore hailed the president's honor hours after it was announced, Clinton has been strangely silent. A spokeswoman for his office said he had made no comment but promised to e-mail a statement if one was released.

Clinton's wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, has not been as shy. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that she planned to congratulate Obama personally when she went to the White House for a meeting this afternoon.

"From the secretary's standpoint, not only is it well deserved -- the outreach that the president has made in the first 10 months in office -- but it's an affirmation of the strategy of engagement, the need to work collaboratively and multilaterally to solve the challenges of the world," Crowley said.

He added that much of the work of fulfilling Obama's agenda "falls significantly on the shoulders of the secretary."

Clinton's friends said they did not expect him to publicly complain, insisting that he is focused on his work, which includes the Clinton Global Initiative's efforts to combat public health crises. Still, one close confidant said, it is hard to envision what more Clinton could do to deserve the Nobel honor.

"From Bosnia and Belfast to the Clinton Global Initiative fighting AIDS in Africa and climate change, it is pretty hard to think of what he hasn't done," the friend said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he did not want to leave the impression that Clinton was personally complaining.

In the meantime, presumably Bill Clinton can console himself by recalling that he's not the only one to be left out. Even Gandhi failed to win the prize.

Staff writer Anne E. Kornblut contributed to this report.

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