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President Obama's Domestic Critics Not Impressed With Nobel Prize


President Obama's Domestic Critics Not Impressed With Nobel Prize
President Obama's Domestic Critics Not Impressed With Nobel Prize
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The announcement that President Barack Obama is this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize brought a mixed reaction in the United States, largely reflecting the deep divisions in U.S. domestic politics.

Mr. Obama said he was surprised and deeply humbled by the Nobel Peace Prize.

But in his remarks at the White House, he was quick to note that most Americans remain focused on the domestic economy and jobs.

"I'm also aware that we are dealing with the impact of a global economic crisis that has left millions of Americans looking for work," said President Obama. "These are concerns that I confront every day on behalf of the American people."

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Democrats were quick to offer congratulations, including two former Nobel winners, former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Al Gore.

"It is an honor for him, first and foremost of course, but it is an honor for our country," said Al Gore. "I think it is extremely well-deserved."

The reaction from many Republicans was decidedly more negative.

The Republican Party national chairman, Michael Steele, issued a statement that said Americans want to know what the president has actually accomplished. He added that Mr. Obama will not be getting any awards for job creation or fiscal responsibility.

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh also went on the attack.

"He is not only the first post-racial president, he is also the nation's first post-accomplishment president," said Rush Limbaugh. "He has risen above incompetence. He is now judged on wishful thinking. This fully exposes, folks, the illusion that is Obama."

Political analysts are already debating whether the Nobel award helps or hurts the president at home.

John Tirman is an expert on international affairs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

"He is now viewed as the world's great diplomat, rightly or wrongly, and so it does give him a little political capital at home on foreign affairs," said John Tirman.

But many Republicans and a number of experts say it appears Mr. Obama won the Nobel Prize more for his rhetorical aspirations than concrete achievements.

Michael O'Hanlon is a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

"Domestically, I'm not sure that this helps Obama at all because it makes it easier for critics on the right to say, you see, we were right all along, he really is just about the rhetoric," said Michael O'Hanlon.

As for the impact on Mr. Obama's efforts on domestic issues like the economy and health care reform, not much says Heritage Foundation analyst Lisa Curtis.

"The health care debate has been very fractious here in the U.S. and I don't see that this winning the Nobel Peace Prize will help very much in that debate," said Lisa Curtis.

There were congratulations for the president from one prominent Republican. Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama's opponent in last year's presidential election, told the Cable News Network that Americans are always pleased when their presidents are recognized on the scale of something like the Nobel Peace Prize.