While top conservative media personalities and Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele were quick to disparage Friday’s surprise awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama, the response from other corners of the GOP was considerably more muted.

From the field of prospective 2012 presidential contenders to Capitol Hill, most Republican voices were careful to offer faint praise-or simply to keep their mouths shut.

It was the rare occasion when many of the party’s most prominent voices could agree that the most effective political response was none at all. The thinking was that there was little need to pile on since the decision to present the award- for which Obama was nominated within his first two weeks in office-seemed to speak volumes on its own.

A senior GOP aide on Capitol Hill indicated that many top Republicans decided soon after the prize was announced that the wisest course of action was to remain silent and let people come to their own conclusions about whether or not the president deserved the award.

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