Various Responsible Media Centrists have already started bloviating about how Barack Obama should decline to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, under normal circumstances, this idea could be dismissed as the usual round of said media centrists advancing an idea because it is contrarian and therefore Very Serious, and really, we all know that’s the reason they’re advancing it; not from any genuine thought or concern, but because it is ostensibly a little bit shocking to suggest (and because, let us be honest, there is a certain stripe of media outlet that rather enjoys portraying the President as being unfit to receive the honor).
However, here’s the thing: he should decline to accept it.
The reason is simple: he has already gained all the political advantage of winning the award. Were he to decline now, he would still possess whatever moral authority winning the Nobel Peace Prize conveys at this point; it is impossible for him to unmake the Nobel committee’s decision. They can’t take that away from him, even if he gives it away. But if he declines to accept it, he appears humble, which earns him even more credibility (and at this point, worldwide, he has a lot of it). He can make a speech about how he doesn’t deserve this award when Timmy Who Campaigns Against Landmines or Joan The AIDS Researcher actually deserves it more than him, and give Timmy or Joan or whoever a major spike in credibility for their cause.
The math is simple: he gets more juice out of refusing the award than he does by accepting it. And while it might be nice to have a Nobel on the mantle to show to the grandkids one day, realistically if he can get more diplomatic stroke through refusal, that’s the wisest course of action.