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President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize: Part of a Liberal Trend?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: First, the early morning stunner. We all awoke to the international news. President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am both surprised and deeply humbled by the decision of the Nobel committee. Let me be clear I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments, but rather as an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations. To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize.

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VAN SUSTEREN: So why President Obama? The Nobel committee says it rewarded President Obama for its extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. Now, Rush Limbaugh? Not impressed.

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RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Gore, Carter, Obama, soon Bill Clinton. You see a pattern here, folks? Liberal sellouts! Liberal sellouts get this prize. George Bush liberates 50 million Muslims, Ronald Reagan liberates hundreds of millions of Europeans, saves parts of Latin America. Any awards? No, just derision. Obama gives speeches trashing his own country -- and he gets a prize for it.

This actually makes total sense when you look at who the Nobel people are, these elite Norwegians, Europeans. They love what Obama is doing. And this fully exposes, folks, the illusion that is Obama. This is a greater embarrassment than losing the Olympics bid was. And with this award -- and Obama got it right. He knows exactly why he was given this award.

The elites of the world are urging him, a man of peace, to not do the surge in Afghanistan. They are urging him to not take on Iran. That's what this -- if you want to get serious about it for a minute, is what this is really all about. How can he now send 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan after that-- that cotton candy speech he just gave this morning?

The Nobel Peace Prize just told Obama, Look, we love what you're doing, you are destroying your country as a superpower. Keep it up, bud! This is what we expected, and you're doing a damn good job. Those are accomplishments, folks, and in the eyes of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, these are the accomplishments they're looking for. He's basically emasculating this country, and they applauded today with this award. They love a weakened, neutered United States, and this is their way of promoting the concept and this slam-dunk.

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VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us now is presidential historian Doug Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University and author of the new book about Teddy Roosevelt called "The Wilderness Warrior," and the author of about a zillion other books, as well. Doug, nice to see you.

DOUG BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Nice to see you, Greta. Thanks for having me on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Doug, what is the criteria for the Nobel Peace Prize? And is it fluid? Does it change from year to year, from award to award?

BRINKLEY: Well, it's changed year to year and also decade by decade. It used to be -- early in the Nobel, some presidents -- like Theodore Roosevelt got one for mediating the Russo-Japanese war, Woodrow Wilson for helping make the peace terms of World War I. Then there became a period when Americans won, it wasn't the president, meaning Franklin Roosevelt probably should have won for creating the United Nations, but the award went to his secretary of state, Cordell Hull. Or Harry Truman should have won it for the Marshall plan, but the award went to Marshall.

But in the last decade, really, since 2001, we've seen Jimmy Carter, Al Gore and now Barack Obama, three leading Democrats in the United States, win the Nobel Prize for various reasons, Carter for human rights, Gore for global warming and Barack Obama for inspiring hope.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's interesting. There's a lot of criticism by some. I mean, he's got a lot of fans in this country that he deserved the award, but some don't think he deserved the award. The nomination was actually soon after he was inaugurated as president, sometime in early February. Do we have any idea who nominated him?

BRINKLEY: No, and you won't know for 50 years. The records stay closed. People that can nominate -- I don't have time to name all the ones, including history professors, law professors, theologians. So you get a huge pool of people being nominated. Barack Obama was earnest today when he said, I had no idea I was really even nominated. So it came as much a shock to him.

But I think Obama electrified the world in 2008. If you remember the famous speech he gave in Berlin which was -- talked about being a global speech. There was things -- some thinking that Barack Obama was the first truly global candidate, and I think this is a manifestation of it.

Barack Obama is very liked around the world because he shocked America with his election. The fact that an African-American with the name Barack Obama could win and be president of the United States stunned a lot of people in the world. And I think this is a kind of a thank you, a payback for the fact that Obama seemed to have done the impossible, come from the most humble roots and origins and make it to the most powerful job in the world, leader of the free world.

VAN SUSTEREN: But is it something that -- in theory, is the award for something that you have done, something that you've accomplished, or is it something for sort of an extraordinary background and inspiring hope because those are two very different concepts?

BRINKLEY: I think most of them are for something very concrete, more of a Camp David-like peace accord, when you know, Begin and Sadat won, for example. That would be classic. Other time, organizations like UNICEF wins. One year, the Quakers won. So it really depends on the year.

But I think Obama's is unusual in how young he is. He's a 48-year-old man. And I thought about it some today, and I think you have to really think about it more in the terms of Martin Luther King. He won a Nobel Peace Prize at 35 years old, right in 1964, before the historic Civil Rights legislation of '65. And King was at that point 35. He had his whole career ahead of him. So it was kind of an award to encourage King to continue fighting for Civil Rights.

And I think Barack Obama's is to encourage him pushing, particularly as the Nobel committee mentioned, to abolish classifications of nuclear weapons and to continue the Cairo speech, where he's seeming to put an olive branch out between Christians and Israel and the Muslim world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, when we look at that, I mean, people point to the fact that those are speeches and is hope reaching out to the Muslim world, hoping that he can change things by reaching out to them. But if you sort of look back in even recent history, you have President Reagan, "Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev," and essentially winning the cold war. And you have President Clinton even in his post-presidential times, where he raised millions of dollars in his Clinton Global Initiative and spread money around the world for water and for agriculture.

I mean, there have been -- I can point to concrete things that other recent presidents have done, and this president, you know, is very young. He's very new at the business.

BRINKLEY: Well, that's right. But there are also, Greta, examples like Jane Adams in Chicago won it for Hull House, which was -- she was a social worker taking care of the poor in Chicago, and it kind of stunned people decades ago when Jane Adams won a Nobel Peace Prize. Ralph Bunch won, a U.N. diplomat. He won in 1950, an African-American. Many people thought Ralph Bunch got it because he was a leading African-American in the diplomatic world. We're not one of the five judges in Oslo.

I would say this. I heard your clip of Rush. I mean, Norway's a friend of ours. They've been a great NATO ally. And the fact that the people of Norway want to honor an American president with an award, I think you say, Congratulations, Mr. President, and move on.

VAN SUSTEREN: Doug, as always, thank you. Nice to see you.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Greta.

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