If Barack Obama wishes to be judged on his own merits, as a politician and a President, rather than as the Norwegian committee's "magic negro," he should decline the Nobel Peace Prize. The Barack Obama who wrote "Dreams from My Father" is a complex and fascinating man. He is not a token, a fetish, a talisman, or a symbol. He is not a Morgan Freeman movie character.
And that's all I'll say on the matter.
Update: Well, it isn't all I'll say on the matter. Awarding the prize to Obama, at this early stage in his political career (he was only a junior Senator this time last year) is the Academy's way of rebuking, yet again, George W. Bush. The committee had already done that, by awarding the prize to Al Gore. Bush deserves many rebukes, but the committee has sullied and trivialized itself and its prize with this one. Obama has not furthered the cause of world peace in any measurable way, because he hasn't had time to do so. It remains to be seen whether his policies will in fact further world peace. If the committee gave the prize to Obama as a symbol, on the other hand, as a way of commemorating the achievements of African Americans in rising from segregation to the White House in 40 years, the "magic negro" comment stands. Awarding the prize to Obama smacks of post-colonial paternalism, and faintly of racism.
"Here's a pat on the head, magic negro. You've come so far!"
The prize should have been awarded to Richard Holbrooke for the Dayton Accords, his work in Bosnia, and in the Middle East today, or to Harry Wu or another Chinese activist for civil rights. The only significant war that Obama has resolved is the Henry Louis Gates conflict, and there he had an assist from the makers of Bud Light. Was Anheuser-Busch at least nominated?