No yelling this time, but GOP foes mock Obama's Nobel win

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 9, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- One month to the day after fellow South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson yelled "You lie!" at President Barack Obama, Rep. Gresham Barrett on Friday mocked the president for winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

"Congratulations to President Obama on his prize," said Barrett, who's running for governor. "I'm not sure what the international community loved best: his waffling on Afghanistan, pulling defense missiles out of Eastern Europe, turning his back on freedom fighters in Honduras, coddling Castro, siding with Palestinians against Israel or almost getting tough on Iran."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, also a South Carolina Republican, said the significance of the Nobel Peace Prize might be diluted by awarding it to a president in his first year in office.

"I think probably this is just going to marginalize the award," Graham said, joking that, "It was probably an award for not being George W. Bush."

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, begged to differ, saying that Obama's new engagement with other nations began long before his election in November.

"If you look at the campaign he ran and his inaugural address, you see there the foundation that really reached out to the world like nothing this country has seen in a long, long time," Clyburn said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Obama's "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Some political analysts viewed the awarding of the prize to Obama as a rebuke of Bush, but White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said it wasn't a partisan honor.

Graham commended Obama for saying he was surprised by the honor. Obama said he doesn't "deserve to be in the company" of other Nobel Peace Prize recipients.

"I like President Obama, I do," Graham said. "But probably like everybody else, I'm a little stunned. I know it's an honor, but I'm a bit amused really."

Republicans have chafed in recent years as the Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the peace price to three prominent Democrats -- former President Jimmy Carter in 2002, former Vice President Al Gore in 2007, and now Obama.

"The world may love it, but following in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter is not where America needs to go," Barrett said.

Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, compared Obama with the late Martin Luther King Jr., who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

King earned the honor "for withstanding the tremendous resistance this country had to becoming a 20th century nation," Clyburn said.

"Barack Obama has gotten this award for . . . trying to bring this country into the 21st century," he said.

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