President Obama's Nobel Peace
Prize: Part of a Liberal Trend?
Saturday , October 10, 2009.
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 9, 2009. This
copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, the early morning stunner. We
all awoke to the international news. President Obama wins the Nobel
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am both surprised and
deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel committee. Let me be clear I
do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as
an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by
people in all nations. 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: So why President Obama? The Nobel committee says it
rewarded President Obama for its extraordinary efforts to strengthen
international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. Now, Rush
Limbaugh? Not impressed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Gore, Carter, Obama, soon Bill
Clinton. You see a pattern here, folks? Liberal sellouts! Liberal
sellouts get this prize. George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims,
Ronald Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans, saves parts
of Latin America. Any awards? No, just derision. Obama gives speeches
trashing his own country -- and he gets a prize for it.
This actually makes total sense when you look at who the Nobel people
are, these elite Norwegians, Europeans. They love what Obama is doing.
And this fully exposes, folks, the illusion that is Obama. This is a
greater embarrassment than losing the Olympics bid was. And with this
award -- and Obama got it right. He knows exactly why he was given this
The elites of the world are urging him, a man of peace, to not do the
surge in Afghanistan. They are urging him to not take on Iran. That's
what this -- if you want to get serious about it for a minute, is what
this is really all about. How can he now send 40,000 more troops to
Afghanistan after that-- that cotton candy speech he just gave this
The Nobel Peace Prize just told Obama, Look, we love what you're doing,
you are destroying your country as a superpower. Keep it up, bud! This
is what we expected, and you're doing a damn good job. Those are
accomplishments, folks, and in the eyes of the Nobel Peace Prize
committee, these are the accomplishments they're looking for. He's
basically emasculating this country, and they applauded today with this
award. They love a weakened, neutered United States, and this is their
way of promoting the concept and this slam-dunk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us now is presidential historian Doug Brinkley,
professor of history at Rice University and author of the new book about
Teddy Roosevelt called "The Wilderness Warrior," and the author of about
a zillion other books, as well. Doug, nice to see you.
DOUG BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Nice to see you, Greta. Thanks
for having me on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Doug, what is the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize? And
is it fluid? Does it change from year to year, from award to award?
BRINKLEY: Well, it's changed year to year and also decade by decade. It
used to be -- early in the Nobel, some presidents -- like Theodore
Roosevelt got one for mediating the Russo-Japanese war, Woodrow Wilson
for helping make the peace terms of World War I. Then there became a
period when Americans won, it wasn't the president, meaning Franklin
Roosevelt probably should have won for creating the United Nations, but
the award went to his secretary of state, Cordell Hull. Or Harry Truman
should have won it for the Marshall plan, but the award went to
But in the last decade, really, since 2001, we've seen Jimmy Carter, Al
Gore and now Barack Obama, three leading Democrats in the United States,
win the Nobel Prize for various reasons, Carter for human rights, Gore
for global warming and Barack Obama for inspiring hope.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's interesting. There's a lot of criticism by
some. I mean, he's got a lot of fans in this country that he deserved
the award, but some don't think he deserved the award. The nomination
was actually soon after he was inaugurated as president, sometime in
early February. Do we have any idea who nominated him?
BRINKLEY: No, and you won't know for 50 years. The records stay closed.
People that can nominate -- I don't have time to name all the ones,
including history professors, law professors, theologians. So you get a
huge pool of people being nominated. Barack Obama was earnest today when
he said, I had no idea I was really even nominated. So it came as much a
shock to him.
But I think Obama electrified the world in 2008. If you remember the
famous speech he gave in Berlin which was -- talked about being a global
speech. There was things -- some thinking that Barack Obama was the
first truly global candidate, and I think this is a manifestation of it.
Barack Obama is very liked around the world because he shocked America
with his election. The fact that an African-American with the name
Barack Obama could win and be president of the United States stunned a
lot of people in the world. And I think this is a kind of a thank you, a
payback for the fact that Obama seemed to have done the impossible, come
from the most humble roots and origins and make it to the most powerful
job in the world, leader of the free world.
VAN SUSTEREN: But is it something that -- in theory, is the award for
something that you have done, something that you've accomplished, or is
it something for sort of an extraordinary background and inspiring hope
because those are two very different concepts?
BRINKLEY: I think most of them are for something very concrete, more of
a Camp David-like peace accord, when you know, Begin and Sadat won, for
example. That would be classic. Other time, organizations like UNICEF
wins. One year, the Quakers won. So it really depends on the year.
But I think Obama's is unusual in how young he is. He's a 48-year-old
man. And I thought about it some today, and I think you have to really
think about it more in the terms of Martin Luther King. He won a Nobel
Peace Prize at 35 years old, right in 1964, before the historic Civil
Rights legislation of '65. And King was at that point 35. He had his
whole career ahead of him. So it was kind of an award to encourage King
to continue fighting for Civil Rights.
And I think Barack Obama's is to encourage him pushing, particularly as
the Nobel committee mentioned, to abolish classifications of nuclear
weapons and to continue the Cairo speech, where he's seeming to put an
olive branch out between Christians and Israel and the Muslim world.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, when we look at that, I mean, people point to the
fact that those are speeches and is hope reaching out to the Muslim
world, hoping that he can change things by reaching out to them. But if
you sort of look back in even recent history, you have President Reagan,
"Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev," and essentially winning the cold
war. And you have President Clinton even in his post-presidential times,
where he raised millions of dollars in his Clinton Global Initiative and
spread money around the world for water and for agriculture.
I mean, there have been -- I can point to concrete things that other
recent presidents have done, and this president, you know, is very
young. He's very new at the business.
BRINKLEY: Well, that's right. But there are also, Greta, examples like
Jane Adams in Chicago won it for Hull House, which was -- she was a
social worker taking care of the poor in Chicago, and it kind of stunned
people decades ago when Jane Adams won a Nobel Peace Prize. Ralph Bunch
won, a U.N. diplomat. He won in 1950, an African-American. Many people
thought Ralph Bunch got it because he was a leading African-American in
the diplomatic world. We're not one of the five judges in Oslo.
I would say this. I heard your clip of Rush. I mean, Norway's a friend
of ours. They've been a great NATO ally. And the fact that the people of
Norway want to honor an American president with an award, I think you
say, Congratulations, Mr. President, and move on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Doug, as always, thank you. Nice to see you.
BRINKLEY: Thanks, Greta.
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