October 9, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

This morning's news from Sweden left jaws dropping all across America, and perhaps across the world. The idea that a president who has made such a low priority of foreign policy would receive the Nobel Peace Prize so early in his term, before he had any significant accomplishments, is simply too bizarre to digest. It will make for plenty of late-night comedy jokes, at least. Obama thus joins the ranks of other such nobel Nobel luminaries (?) as Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Yasser Arafat. See CNN.com.

All kidding aside, however, there is a very real legal complication stemming from the fact that Obama is the [third] sitting president to have received the award. As J.P. Freire notes at washingtonexaminer.com, Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution states:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

The Nobel Peace Prize carries with it a cash prize of about $1.4 million. Obama says he will donate it to charity, but that is beside the point. Unless Congress passes a resolution to approve of the award, it will be illegal -- no ifs, ands, or buts.

Finally, here's some witty wisdom from Facebook:

Steve Bragaw loves the delicious confluence of the President of the United States of America winning the Nobel Peace Prize on the same day that we are bombing the moon. (space.com)

Deeds: waffling compromiser

As more polls confirm that Bob McDonnell has a comfortable lead over Creigh Deeds, Democrats must be screaming at each other over what campaign approach to take. He faces quite a dilemma: Keep hammering away at the irrelevant 1989 thesis by McDonnell, which hasn't done much good so far, or appeal to moderate voters by disavowing any support for the increasingly unpopular "Obamacare" scheme? Well, maybe he can do both at the same time! The Washington Post recently had a psychological profile of candidate Creigh Deeds, calling attention to his notorious inability to take a firm stand on anything: "Raised to believe in the power of compromise, he tends to see pledges and specifics as just so many holes in a frayed fence that will require patching anyway."

Baucus health bill: $$$$

Speaking of Obamacare, the latest version of Senator Baucus's health plan will be up for a vote in the Senate Finance Committee next week. There were rumors that it would totally bust the budget, but after some arms were twisted at the Congressional Budget Office, a much more hopeful forecast emerged. Don't let such "rosy scenarios" fool you, folks. Take a look at Wall Street Journal Online (hat tip to Rep. Bob Goodlatte), where Stephen Moore explains the true cost of the proposal. If you look at the dirty details, a number of clever tricks are apparent. For example, businesses would only have to pay a $600 fine if they don't provide health insurance for their employees, which sounds relatively reasonable. The effect of such a provision, however, would be to encourage many current businesses to cease coverage for new employees, under the expectation that they would be covered under the envisioned expanded Medicaid system. That would be a "stealthy" form of the public option, under a different name. The true cost would be astronomical, and middle-class folks would shoulder the greatest burden.