They just give those things to anyone?

Barack Obama got a phone call yesterday, early in the morning, notifying him he'd won the Nobel Prize for Peace. This doesn't happen often, I hear - fairly big honor one should think, and made all the more interesting for a few notable reasons:

First, Bambam was completely unaware he'd been nominated, or so he says. Whatever, we all learned a Nobel can be given to people who are completely unaware of it, like a guerrilla award. As an aside I have to admit I'm a little pissed I wasn't selected. Seems the only time I get surprise phone calls these days it means there's a funeral or I have to go look for a job again.

Second, the conferment of this historically arguable honor has brought, as could only be expected, a flurry of partisan responses that are just as varied as they are inevitable: the guy who was slated to end a very unpopular war in Iraq hasn't quiiiiite managed to do that yet, and is leaning toward expanding another in Afghanistan. Obviously peaceful efforts. Maybe I'm out of line, but this sounds a lot like my favorite peace rally poster: "fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity." I'd think so august an award for peace would have gone to someone...I dunno...peaceful?

The Right is up in arms about it of course, because it's their job to be and they're very good at that job: if the spirit-form of Gandhi himself popped up and was handed another Nobel he'd be blasted as "that skinny liberal" and endlessly dissed as a cause of AIDS or whatever other blather could be rapidly and histrionically invented. Similarly, The Left is stuck wondering what the hell to do about PETA, those hysterically pathetic hippies on YouTube crying in the woods over dead trees, and scratching their heads as well; that SNL "Jack and Squat" skit spoofing Obama's two great achievements, or notable lack thereof, rings a little too true.

Third and last, and most telling for me, is the question that sprang to life within hours of the announcement on every blog, in every paper, on every web news outlet ever made: if they didn't give it to Obama...who the hell would they give it to? This planet isn't exactly swimming with peaceful people these days. Ahmadinejad, too busy spinning up uranium to accept. Putin shirtless and wrestling a bear, plotting something new in Georgia. Berlusconi? Gawd - a quick one to wipe off the list because he'd he'd try to nail the presenter.

Do they really give those things to anyone? I mean, it's not that I dislike Bambam. He was and remains my pick, and if he can overcome the bizarre spate of home brewed anti-intellectual torpor splattered on the front pages, he's far, far more likely to be a deserving recipient than, say, his predecessor...and let's face it: G.W. Bush was probably nowhere near the list of finalists, was he?

It seems to me that he wasn't picked: the Nobel people simply had no one else to give it to.


  1. Oh shoot Schuyler! Give it up! Google "Nobel prize process" or "Nobel prize" or some such thing.

    Of course there were very suitable nominees for the Nobel who have spend a life time working for human rights at the risk of their lives. (but remember that Obama definitely is risking his life by being president --averages 30 death threats a day...). And of course granting the prize to Obama seems awfully premature.

    However, they gave it to Obama because he is against nuclear proliferation and for nuclear disarmament. Bush-Chenney's itchy fingers on the red button scared the hell out of everyone having a modicum of common sense. People got even more scared by Bush wanting to put a row of missiles in Poland, and then, of course, by Putin retaliating by wanting to put a row of missiles on Russia's border with Poland. And then, it would only be a matter of time before one of them took off (computer glitch?) and somehow started the automatic process of nukes going back and forth between Russia and the US, and of course obliterating every living thing on earth. So, there was an audible sigh of relief when Obama changed that policy. Yes, Obama got the Nobel because the committee members are very glad to still be alive, and to be able to hope that their future life expectancy has been restored, at least for the time being....

    Did I ever mentioned that even though I'm a born optimist, I'm at the same time one hell of a pessimist?

    So as someone wrote, Obama managed to push back by a few minutes the time of the clock that measures how much time we have before midnight (=nuclear disaster)...

    Obama also got people talking to each other,so that's hopeful.

    Now don't get me wrong. I think Obama's policy in Afghanistan is doomed. There was only a small window of opportunity that Bush could have used if he hadn't turned around and gone to Iraq. The Afghanis hated the Talibans (you know, anyone who'd forbid playing music, even at weddings, will be hated) so there might have been room for a Marshall plan --but...

    Nobody, but nobody (including Alexander the Great, who was actually a bloodthirsty goon with good PR) has ever been able to conquer Afghanistan, and so I doubt that we will and I feel horrible about our soldiers dying for a lost cause and for the Afghanis who have had to endure decades of war. At any rate, a guerilla war is almost impossible to win. You're always going to alienate the population because you're unavoidably going to mistake some bystanders for the guerillas,and then of course the survivors among those bystanders will become prime recruiting material ....



  2. Yeah, Kati - I know they don't actually reach into a big orange Home Depot bucket and draw random names for it, and I started but didn't finish the bit in Reuters about the Nobel committee's explanation of why they felt Bambam was their guy. All this, though, and I still hear you saying (which i completely agree with) "...Bush-Chenney's itchy fingers on the red button scared the hell out of everyone...", which is true, even for a cold-war era lost child like me, which still makes me think the political cartoonists got it right when they drew Bambam getting his award to the words "Congratulations for NOT being George Bush."

    Come to think of it, that does deserve an award...

    I have to listen to Rachel's podcast - I understood she makes a good breakdown of the deserving nature of this one...

    Cheers, you!