Monday, October 12, 2009

Yes, he can

When I got into work on Friday, a colleague who was monitoring the wires looked up from her computer and informed me -- with a somewhat taken aback expression -- that Barack Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm ashamed to say that my first reaction was: "For doing what?"

It's not that I'm not an Obama fan. I am. It shouldn't matter to someone on the opposite side of the globe who the US president is since we have no say about the matter. But yes, I was happy that he was elected. And was one of the interested millions watching his inauguration on satellite TV.

But I really don't know what he's done so far to win the Nobel Peace Prize, especially as nominations reportedly closed on Feb 1, and there really wasn't much time for him to do anything by that date. An opinion piece in The Guardian newspaper in the UK remarked that he probably won it solely on the basis of not being Bush. Well, that I can live with.

It didn't help that the current issue of The Economist that I just got in the mail on the same day has a feature on Obama's mounting woes, with the week's political cartoon showing him struggling with an unwieldy Afghanistan, and after he had managed that, only to be confronted by a weighty Pakistan.

Other Nobel laureates worked long and hard before they were honoured: Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, last year's winner Mohammad Yunnus. Even Jimmy Carter got his some 20 years after leaving the White House and Al Gore had to share his with a whole bunch of other people.

That Obama got his on the hopes of what he can achieve rather than what he has already done can only make us wonder what else he might win once he's been in the White House to actually achieve mighty things.

Oh, and my next reaction on the news: Has anybody got a soundbite reaction out of Bush yet? Nyah, nyah, nyah.

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