Oh, I Get It…For A Second There I Thought You’d Gone Bonkers!

This morning’s announcement that US President Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize made hot coffee come out of my nose. Appreciate his efforts though I most certainly do, the guy just hasn’t accomplished all that much to warrant any kind of recognition, lofty or low…

But before you idly listen without informed retort to your own pals pooh-poohing the accolade or do what I did (coffee+nose=bad), remember that the Nobel committee was not judging the charismatic noob on his first year in office, but rather on his preceding year, ie. while he was still running for President. This would follow as per Alfred Nobel’s idealistic and posthumous wishes of 108 years ago. Go figure.

(Watch Geir Lundestad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, clarifying the “why” in the video above)

I suppose it makes sense when seen through the lens of those doing the deciding. Unless you’re from rural Kansas and believe God regularly appears on the burnt bits of toast, you probably remember 2008 as the year Obama inspired a planet long frustrated by a totally different style of leadership, one of swagger and bravado, dismissiveness and contempt.

Indeed, it’s very easy to forget that at this point last year, the world was exhausted by its own loathing of a country that had the potential to be so much better than it had been. It’s no surprise that in its weariness the world (especially Europe) spun its hopes around a single person who promised change that no one else seemed interested in delivering.

Material change may not have come yet, but it’s early still, and 2009 hasn’t exactly been the easiest of years to navigate for any President, competent or not. This wasn’t a prize for winning a race, but rather a welcome to the starting line.

  • Ed

    “Obama inspired a planet . . .” a fantastic quote.

  • Darcy McGee

    I don’t think it’s a question of whether it’s “right.” I mean, everybody likes the guy….

    It is, however, highly dubious. I mean…he hasn’t DONE much yet. What happens if he turns into a tremendous disappointment?

    Practically speaking Bono has had more impact, despite the fact that I think it’s fairly disingenuous of a guy who sits on a fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars to call on countries around the world to forgive Africa’s debt.

    Yes, they should forgive Africa’s debt. Why doesn’t Bono give those countries the cash they need if he’s so adamant about it?

    So, you know, it’s really a question of dubiousness. It’s easier to accept these things when they’re awarded for concrete, definable, measured achievements (Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.) rather than potential.

    They don’t, after all, give out a Nobel Prize for “attempted” chemistry. (Or “potential” chemistry, if you prefer.)

    This seems rather like a Nobel Prize for attempted peace.

  • Ed

    Aside: I think Bono would be crazy to pay for someone else’s debt. It’s the country that made the loan that can forgive the loan.