Actually, this is not a joke. It just seems like one.
Eighteen House Republicans have nominated Donald Trump for the 2019 Nobel peace prize.
In a letter spearheaded by the Indiana Republican Luke Messer and sent to the Norwegian Nobel committee, the lawmakers claim that Trump should “receive the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his work to end the Korean War, denuclearize the Korean peninsula and bring peace to the region.”
The rules for a Nobel prize nomination are relatively loose. Nominations can only be made by people who belong to a handful of categories, including members of a national legislation body, university professors and former winners of the prize – but there are no other restrictions. In 2018, there were 330 nominees to win the award, which will be announced in December. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was the 2017 winner.
The Nobel committee operates under aegis of the government of Norway, but a 2009 justice department memo says the prize and accompanying $1.4m award does not qualify as a “emolument” from a foreign power, as the committee is independent from the government. Trump has previously faced criticism over foreign government spending at his hotels, which scholars have argued is an emolument.
Although the letter copiously praises Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign and says there is “no one more deserving of the Committee’s recognition in 2019 than President Trump for his tireless work to bring peace to our world”, there may be political motivations at play as well.
Messer, a three-term incumbent from south-eastern Indiana, is in a ferocious three-way primary next week for the Republican nomination for the US Senate. One of the main bones of contention between him and his two main opponents, the congressman Todd Rokita and the businessman Mike Braun, is over which candidate is most dedicated to supporting Trump. The winner faces the Democratic incumbent, Joe Donnelly, in a state that Trump won by 19 points in 2016.
Four other Republican Senate hopefuls have signed the letter. Neither Kevin Cramer of North Dakota nor Marsha Blackburn faces competitive primaries in their fight to win competitive Senate seats in red states, but two others do.
Evan Jenkins of West Virginia signed the letter, as did Jim Renacci of Ohio. Both face competitive primaries next week in state won by Trump with incumbent Democrats. Other signatories include Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who leads the hard-right Freedom Caucus, and Steve King of Iowa, who has long praised far-right anti-immigration figures in European politics, such as Geert Wilders.
Former Nobel Peace Prize winners include. Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Linus Pauling, Amnesty International, and Martin Luther King, Jr.