Nobel Committee Cites Obama's Disarmament Efforts
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News, I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Nobody has ever accused President Barack Obama of being a late bloomer.
MONTAGNE: He ran for president after less than one full term in the Senate.
INSKEEP: He became one of the youngest men ever to win the White House.
MONTAGNE: Now, he has won the Nobel Prize for Peace during his first year in office.
INSKEEP: In fact, the deadline for nominations came early this year, less than two weeks after Mr. Obama took office.
MONTAGNE: NPR's White House correspondent, Scott Horsley, joins us now to talk about all of this. Good morning.
SCOTT HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: And it seems the White House was just as surprised by this announcement as everyone else.
HORSLEY: I think that's right. The president, himself, got the news in a wakeup call this morning, from the press secretary, Robert Gibbs, just before 6:00 AM. He was said to be humbled by the recognition. And, you know, this prize comes, not only early in the morning, east coast time, but very early in the president's administration - just eight-and-a-half months in. That's, perhaps, the biggest surprise. Most handicappers thought it was just way too soon for this sort of recognition. I remember when the president gave a graduation speech at Arizona State University, this summer, the school declined an honorary degree - saying much of his work is still ahead of him. Obviously, the Nobel Committee took a different approach.
MONTAGNE: And we have a little clip of what the Nobel Committee said this morning.
(SOUNDBITE OF AUDIO CLIP)
U: Obama has, as president, created a new international climate. Multilateral diplomacy has regained central position with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.
MONATAGNE: And so, you're hearing the Committee speak of President Obama creating a new political climate and reversing what it - what do you call - unilateralism, I guess you would say; giving people hope is something it also said. Though, what specifically, would he have done to impress the Prize Committee?
HORSLEY: On his very first day in office, Mr. Obama got personally involved in the Mid- East peace process. No real fruit's been borne from that yet. And the Committee noted that the U.S. is now playing a more active role in global climate negotiations, although prospects for a solid deal in Copenhagen, later this year, are still very uncertain.
MONTAGNE: We're talking with NPR's Scott Horsley. Now, Mr. Obama's is the forth U.S. president to win the prize. There was Jimmy Carter, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt - puts him in pretty rarified company.
HORSLEY: Well, that's right. Of course, both Roosevelt and Wilson had been in office for some years when they were recognized. And former president Carter had been out of office for almost - for more than two decades before he won in 2002. We might mention, also, that former vice president, Al Gore, won in 2007 for his efforts on climate change.
MONTAGNE: Is there a practical effect that this might have for the president's initiatives, domestically?
HORSLEY: One observer said, you know, the U.S. is now back in the world's good graces, but now comes the hard part.
MONTAGNE: Scott, thank you.
HORSLEY: My pleasure.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Scott Horsley speaking to us from Washington, D.C.
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