So when I groggily sat in front of my laptop this morning to check out what had happened in the world since I was last awake I got a shot of bracing cold water to the face by discovering President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I think my reaction was probably shared by many in the world when I went, "What the fuck?"
Don't get me wrong, I'm a tremendous admirer of the man and I think he's done remarkable work in adverse times and faced with an opposition that appears to have only the most tenuous grasp on sanity. And yes, he's done good work this year on the international front. The rest of the world is at least looking at the United States in a more positive way. But was he really deserving of the prize so early in his presidency?
Other than thinking the committee was clearly trying to kill Dick Chaney by giving him a stroke, it didn't make sense to me.
That's why Andrew Sullivan is indispensable when it comes to events like this. It's not just what he writes on "The Daily Dish", but also all the links he provides to what other people are thinking from all parts of the spectrum. And not just from the Left and the Right, but also from the Sane and those whose sanity has departed for areas unknown.
Yes, shock seems to be the common thread. The one comment I liked was that you don't put the Rookie of the Year in the Hall of Fame. And it's a valid point. It's a really good start, but he's been in office for nine months. There's a whole lot of time for the wheels to fall off this thing. Many people suggested he should refuse to accept the award.
I've always liked it when the award has gone to people I've never heard of before. It brings awareness to different causes and to the people who often work tirelessly and with little thanks for trying to change the world. I'd never heard of Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh's Grameen Bank before, but when I read about their micro credit plans for helping people in poverty I was fascinated. Medecins Sans Frontieres and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines were other groups I liked seeing get more recognition.
But I think I get this, to some extent. Europeans often don't really seem to understand the United States the same way Canadians do. And certainly President Obama is beloved over there a lot more than he is in the US these days. So it's tempting to say they just don't get it and made a massive mistake. But even so, I think there is a method to the madness. The Peace Prize isn't just an award for good works. It's a political award. It's a weapon, ironically enough, of sorts. And this is recognizing what he's done is promising, but that he better live up to that promise.
There's pressure on President Obama now to fulfill the faith of the Nobel Committee, and all the people who have invested so much in him to make the world a better place. It's an interesting spot they've put him in. He's won the Nobel Peace Prize - now he has to earn it. Nothing like putting a little more pressure on the man.
1. If I'd been the one - 38 Special*
2. Sit down by the fire - The Pogues
3. Relax - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
4. Second hand news - Fleetwood Mac
5. Run devil run - Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins