Friday, October 9, 2009

553. Finish the series: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, _________________

The series in the title names the three sitting United States presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize, something I never imagined writing about here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. But here we are.

In my email inbox today was a missive from one Barack Obama, now a Nobel Laureate. I'm sure he only sent it to 100,000,000 of his closest friends - I just happen to be on that list. It is the first email I've ever received from a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In it he properly admits that he may not be derserving of this honor. But he has been honored nonetheless. Supporters and opponents alike are enjoying the honor, in good and bad ways. What the president doesn't say in his letter, copied below, is who he might really owes the honor to. That would be the 44th best president our Republic ever endured, Obama's predecessor at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, one George W. Bush. Or maybe not.

Naming the president as the winner of the prize is the international community's way of saying farewell one more time to the former Commander-In-Chief. The president believes there are other factors involved - he cites them in the email below. But even his more ardent supporters know this may be a little over the top.

I'm one of those supporters. I consider the vote I cast in November 2008 for Barack Obama as one of the most important things I've ever done in my life. That isn't to say I've been entirely happy with his performance during these first nine months. But I've been far prouder of my president and my country in the last nine months than I had been for the previous eight years.

The world seems to agree with me on that count. While the president, and Democrats in general, are on the defensive here at home - for no really good reason - around the country our stock is rising. And that is a good thing. Is it a good enough thing to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? I'm not sure.

President Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and was deserving of a Peace Prize for his role in settling a foreign war between Russia and Japan (although some credit must go also to his Secretary of State John Hay, originally from Salem, Indiana, and one of my favorite people in American History). The settlement is known as the Treaty of Portsmouth. It is one of the few things that Roosevelt claimed to have done which he actually did do. TR is one of the favorite presidents of many Americans. After close study, I have found him aggressive, entertaining to the max, progressive to a limit, and frankly enchanting. But he wasn't the trust-busting reformer he and his supporters made him out to be. He was an excellent showman and like Thomas Jefferson, a true Renaissance man. But he had not the president mettle of either his predecessor, William McKinley, or his successor, Big Bill Taft.

President Woodrow Wilson won the Peace Prize in 1920 (for the year 1919) for his role in the creation of the League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations, but one that eventually failed on the world scene, largely because of lack of support from the Congress and people in the United States, and an unwilling backbone against Hitler in the late 1930s. Wilson was a world-class leader in a nation and world not yet prepared for such a role - truly a man before his time. His legacy hangs on the failure of the League of Nations, whereas it might be more appropriate to give him credit for the more modern and successful United Nations.

Should President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr., join this dynamic duo from American history? The Nobel Committee seems to think so. For that matter, many thoroughout the world do as well. Maybe we should allow him this international glory - hopefully he will use it not only to create peace around the world (and perhaps rethink his agenda in Afghanistan), but also to restore stability to our domestic economy, something many Americans are still in great need of.

Congratulations, Mr. President.

The email is copied below.


A call to action‏
From: President Barack Obama (
Sent: Fri 10/09/09 5:16 PM
To: Jeff Noble (

Jeff --

This morning, Michelle and I awoke to some surprising and humbling news. At 6 a.m., we received word that I'd been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century. These challenges won't all be met during my presidency, or even my lifetime. But I know these challenges can be met so long as it's recognized that they will not be met by one person or one nation alone.

This award -- and the call to action that comes with it -- does not belong simply to me or my administration; it belongs to all people around the world who have fought for justice and for peace. And most of all, it belongs to you, the men and women of America, who have dared to hope and have worked so hard to make our world a little better.

So today we humbly recommit to the important work that we've begun together. I'm grateful that you've stood with me thus far, and I'm honored to continue our vital work in the years to come.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee -- 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee

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The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.