The Corner

The Empty Nobel

Obama isn’t the first American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he’s the first to win it without having accomplished anything. In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt (five years on the job) had encouraged international arbitration and helped mediate peace between Russia and Japan. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson (six years on the job) helped end the First World War through American intervention and then worked for peace afterward — the Versailles Conference was a disaster, but nobody understood quite how at the time and Wilson, for all his faults, was certainly well intentioned. In 2002, Jimmy Carter (more than two decades after the job) was recognized, rightly or wrongly, for a variety of humanitarian efforts. They all had track records. Obama’s award is simply the projection of wishful thinking.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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