When I read the news this morning that President Obama had been awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, I honestly kept waiting for the punchline. I thought there must be something from Snappleface or The Onion or SNL going on. After all, nominations were due on February 1st, when Obama had been president for less than 2 weeks. But it turns out that the news is true. Although I couldn't resist the opportunity to add that little detail to my piece on Obama's similarities with Jimmy Carter, I'm really of two minds about the whole thing.
First of all, I don't want to criticize Obama. It's not like he asked for this. If there's any embarassment to be felt, it should be by the Nobel committee. And secondly, I always pull for Americans to win, whether wars, sporting events, or the World Series of Poker. To whine about this just because it's Obama strikes me as being a lot like cheering when Chicago didn't get the Olympics. If Bush had won the Nobel for his work fighting AIDS in Africa, I would have been offended had the left complained (which I'm sure they would have).
That said, this still falls into my category of "things about the modern world I hate." The other two sitting US Presidents to win this award brokered big peace treaties that stopped hot wars (Teddy Roosevelt in 1906, Woodrow Wilson in 1919). Other Nobel laureates I respect include Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, and Lech Walesa, just to name a few. But in recent years we've seen the "Peace" prize go to Yasser Arafat, the anti-land-mine lady (who apparently has no clue how South Korea's existence depends upon land mines in the DMZ), Jimmy Carter (who deserved a lifetime achievement award, but, like Obama, was rewarded for being hostile to Bush), and most recently Al Gore. I feel the same way about the Nobel Peace Prize that I do about the Grammys ever since Michael Jackson won more than the Beatles, or the Oscars in the last 10 or so years (come on--American Beauty vs. Gone With The Wind. Please.) While I'm at it, I also think the NBA hasn't been worth a darn since at least 1992, and even comic books aren't as good as they used to be.
So it's not about Obama. It's about us. In a world where every child gets a trophy, every rec league soccer game ends in a tie, PE classes ban dodgeball because it picks on the weak, an Boise State can be a contender for the NCAA National Championship, this is not surprising at all. Congratulations to President Obama for winning his award. Too bad the award lost its meaning long ago.