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Was Obama’s prize based on potential?

Shocking. Surprising. Unexpected. That’s how analysts and even the general public reacted to news Friday that President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

And that’s a fair reaction.

The prize, typically awarded for an individual’s body of work in contribution to world peace, was awarded to an American president with little to no track record in the world stage. In fact, nominations for the prize were closed a mere two weeks after he took office earlier this year.

There is no great feat in Obama’s resume – no Mideast peace treaty; no sweeping humanitarian reforms, at home or abroad; no unilateral disarmament on a world stage; no greening of the country or the world; no … well, no real works of any kind. Just words, and perhaps empty promises and hope.

And maybe that’s what the committee voting for the Nobel Prize considered when they awarded this year’s peace prize. Maybe they were, as some have suggested, offering recognition for the potential that lies ahead; for the promise and hope that the world seems to think this president, this one man, brings.

Or, maybe as those more cynical would say, the committee is enamoured with the fact that he is anyone but George Bush and is celebrating that accomplishment.

Whichever the cause, we think it’s a mystifing choice. We certainly recognize President Obama’s potential to have great impact on our nation and our world but we believe time, and history, will tell how effective he will be.

Meanwhile, we believe there are dozens of others out there who are doing real and lasting work to bring about peace on a global scale whose efforts certainly deserve recognition and reward … for the accomplishments already taking place.