President Obama wins the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
I must admit I initially didn’t see what Obama did to deserve this award, especially in the first ten days of his presidency. After all, the nomination deadline was February 1, 2009. Then I did a little research. According to the Timeline of the Presidency of Barack Obama,1 In the first ten days of his presidency, Obama accomplished the following:
- January 20 – Minutes after the administration of the Oath of Office, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, issued an order suspending last-minute federal regulations pushed through by outgoing President George W. Bush, planning to review everything still pending. In one of his first official acts, President Obama issued a proclamation declaring January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation. Obama enacted a pay freeze for Senior White House Staff making more than $100,000 per year, as well as announced stricter guidelines regarding lobbyists in an effort to raise the ethical standards of the White House.
- January 21 – Obama revoked Executive Order 13233, which had been initiated by the Bush administration to limit access to the records of former presidents. At 7:35 EST on January 21, Obama retook the Presidential Oath of Office, again administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, before four print journalists. Obama issued instructions to all agencies and departments in his administration to “adopt a presumption in favor” of Freedom of Information Act requests, reversing earlier policy set by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
- January 22 – President Obama signed an executive order announcing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within a year, and signed a prohibition on using torture and other illegal coercive techniques, such as waterboarding, during interrogations and detentions, requiring the Army field manual to be used as a guide. He issued an executive order titled “Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel”, governing the limitations on hiring of employees by the executive branch to qualified individuals only, and placed very tight restrictions on lobbying in the White House.
- January 23 – Obama ended the funding ban for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, also known as the “gag rule” or the Mexico City Policy. He ordered the first two Predator airstrikes of his presidency. (See Airstrikes in Pakistan).
- January 24 – Obama produced his first weekly Saturday morning video address available on whitehouse.gov and YouTube, (like those released during his transition period) a policy compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
- January 26 – Obama signed his first two Presidential Memoranda concerning energy independence, directing the Department of Transportation to establish higher fuel efficiency standards before 2011 models are released and the allowing states to raise their emissions standards above the national standard. That night he gave his first formal interview as president to Al-Arabiya.
- January 28 – Obama made his first visit to The Pentagon as President, meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- January 29 – Obama signed his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which promotes fair pay regardless of sex, race, or age. Lilly Ledbetter, the plaintiff in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. joined Barack and Michelle Obama at the signing ceremony.
- January 30 – Obama signed a presidential memorandum launching the Middle-Class Working Families Task Force to be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
- January 31 – Obama speaks at the Alfalfa Club annual banquet.
It’s all clear now.
Congratulations, President Obama!
Update: It was pointed out to me on Facebook that the selection committee can consider more than accomplishments up to the date of nomination. During February and March, the committee created a short list. So, rather than ten days, the committee was able to consider Obama’s accomplishments up to March 31 — ten whole weeks!