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Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland, referring to President Obama’s selection, explained that the award this year was about aspirations and encouragement of these new policies and attitudes towards the rest of the world, not about past achievements.

Mr. Jagland said his five-member committee, ranging across Norway’s spectrum from conservative oil company board member Kaci Kullmann Five to Agot Valle of the Socialist Left Party, looked at the decision by asking a simple question: “The question we have to ask is, ‘Who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world?’

In its formal statement, the panel answered: “only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better world.”

Putting partisan politics aside, the committee’s award represents a great challenge for Mr. Obama, who must now try to live up to even greater expectations to deliver real achievements now that he has received the Peace Prize.

I don’t know whether he will succeed. I do know he will do his best and that all Americans, including Republicans who follow the bipartisan statesmanship of Mr. McCain, will want him to.

In such a dangerous world, isn’t it time for everyone to apply once again the historic American tradition that politics should end at the water’s edge?

• Lanny J. Davis, a Washington lawyer and former special counsel to President Clinton, served as a member of President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. He is the author of “Scandal: How ‘Gotcha’ Politics is Destroying America.” This piece is also published at http://