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Many surprised by Obama's Nobel win

WASHINGTON — In the nation's capital on Friday, President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize set off another political war.
Patrick Leahy of Vermont and other leading Democrats hailed the prize as a vindication for a president who has been running into some difficult political sledding in recent months. The chairman of the Republican Party questioned what the president had done to deserve it. Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called the award to Obama "an embarrassment," and a Democratic Party spokesman suggested the president's GOP critics were siding with the Taliban in questioning the merit of the award.
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There was also some non-partisan perplexity from political analysts who wondered how a leader in office less than a year could have won one of the world's most prestigious prizes.
"I was stunned," said Aaron
David Miller, former Mideast peace negotiator and author of the upcoming book, Can America Have Another Great President? He suggested that the jury's decision to honor Obama so early in his term cheapened the prize. "It really does undermine the notion of excellence and greatness."
While agreeing that the Nobel Prize is usually awarded for past achievements, presidential scholar Stephen Hess of the
Brookings Institution said the judges may have been investing in Obama, rather than rewarding him for what he has done so far.
"It shows the Nobel committee's audacity of hope," quipped Hess, borrowing from one of Obama's book titles. "Hope for future achievement."
Obama said he was "both surprised and deeply humbled" to receive the prize and did not feel deserving to be among "transformative figures" who were among previous honorees.
"But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to build, a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents," he said.