Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Prize to End all Peace

Go read Anglachel.

Absolutely, we want him to succeed -- even those of us who deeply resent what he did to gain power, and the foolishness of those who abandoned mature judgment for a teenage crush. But claiming victory before the game has even begun doesn't help. It doesn't help him grow up, nor does it improve the prospects for his success in any of the actual threats to peace that the world faces.

This award was an embarrassment for all concerned. The best that can be said of it is that Obama exited the room with pitch-perfect grace. My initial wish was that he would decline the prize... but perhaps that would also have been a trap. Perhaps it, too, would have seemed steeped in narcissistic self-importance.

Putting aside the impact of this tin-ear faux pas on our President and our politics, what does this do to the brand of the Nobel Peace Prize? This shouldn't be a Best Picture or Best Actor Oscar -- any more than it should be a Best Non-W or Best Non-Amedinejad award. If it is analogous to anything movie-related, it's the Irving Thalberg Award. It should reflect a lifetime of doing "the hard work of peace." And one doesn't give the Irving Thalberg to Justin Timberlake, no matter how cute he is or how much you like his moves.

I mean, when it comes to it, why stop at Peace? Barack Obama hasn't done anything in Physics, Mathematics or Medicine, as far as I know. (He actually has written a couple of books, so that probably disqualifies him for the Literature prize.) For that matter, why stop at Obama? I know plenty of people who have done nothing for world peace -- and most of them don't get to live in such a nice house.

Maybe they were looking ahead, thinking about Afganistan. Maybe they decided, "We'd better do this now. No way we'll be able to give it to him after a year of that mess."

So... another entry in The Guinness Book of What Were They Thinking? Now, there's a room in which one would like to have been a fly on the wall. Sort of like the story planning session for Ishtar.


Derek said...

I think this demonstrated (yet again) the complete irrelevance of the Nobel Peace Prize -- 5 retiring Norwegian parliamentarians decide the leading voice for peace in our time, and that's the commander in chief of the world's largest military engaged in two wars and killing more people per day than any other military? Boggles the mind. At the very least, I would suggest, they should make the committee membership consist of previous prize winners; all the other prizes have some kind of expertise deciding them.

Derek said...

Oh, and let it be said that the irony was not lost on me at all that the day after it was announced Obama would receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Hillary Clinton actually brokered a peace treaty between Turkey and Armenia.

Falstaff said...

I really like that thought on how to pick the winners.

As to this mistake, I find myself hoping for a Hippocratic outcome -- that it will wind up doing little or no harm.