Thankfully I've gotten past my blind Obama obsession of the pre- and post-election period. (Not that it wasn't a lucrative period... it got me on the front page of the Paris metro! Sure, it was by mildly drunk yelling and screaming, but it worked) This is to say that my Obama obsession is now actually capable of some iota of critical thinking. So, when I got the news (from my mother, via gushing email [even though I was the one who blackmailed her into voting Dem]) that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, I was skeptical. I did a double take and rolled my eyes. Ok Europe, we get it. You love the guy.
Then this weekend, during a particularly late Philly night I stayed up to watch Cornel West on Real Time with Bill Maher. And Princeton's Professor West made an excellent point: with the Peace prize now permanently attached to Obama's name, he would be less likely to gravitate towards the political center the way he seems to be doing presently. With the Peace prize, Obama can hardly turn into a war president: he has Nelson Mandela to look up to!
One New York Times article said the same thing, in a roundup of the day's blogs:
The Peace Prize Committee, made up of Norwegians, appeared to have anticipated criticism of their choice. (The other Nobel prizes are awarded by a Swedish committee.) The Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said the prize was often used to encourage laureates rather than reward them for their achievements.
Encourage! Yes. Yes, perhaps I finally understand their decision. Which is not to say that perhaps others are more deserving. But it is, at the very least, understandable. West also made the point that the Nobel Prize is a symbol of how the world perceives Obama, which is true. As another blogger noted,
This Nobel Prize was an investment in future world peace — a bet that by lending some support to the leader of the free world, that leader would be able to achieve something.
So that's that. Let's just hope this Norwegian ploy works. Also, Cornel West is awesome, and a badass. I could listen to him lecture for hours.