The news blindsided even his biggest champions: Barack Obama had joined Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Former Polish President Lech Walesa, himself a Noble laureate, echoed many when he responded, "So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far." Even the Nobel Prize committee acknowledged the award honored Obama's "efforts" to advance global harmony rather than his concrete achievements to date. Many hoped the award would boost Obama's standing to address world conflicts, but his political opponents wasted no time calling foul, noting that three prominent Democrats have won the honor in the past seven years. Said Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele: "It is unfortunate that the President's star power has outshined tireless advocates who have made real achievements working towards peace and human rights."