President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, a decision that instantly created controversy. For one thing, Tina Fey wasn’t even nominated. For another, Obama’s been president less than nine months, and had only been in office for 12 days when his nomination was submitted.
In case you’re wondering who nominated him, NobelPrize.org states, “The names of the nominees and other information about the nominations cannot be revealed until 50 years later.” So if you’re an anti-birther or anti-taxer or anti-tolerater, the answer is: the Forces of Evil.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which chooses the winner each year, explained that “Obama has as a president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.” According to the Associated Press, committee member and Norwegian politician Aagot Valle added that this year’s prize should be seen as “support and a commitment for Obama.”
The president, for his part, was humble about his victory. “I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures that have been honored by this prize,” he said. “I will accept this award as a call to action.”
But just a few hours before Obama’s victory was announced, he stood idly by as NASA tried to blow up the moon! From what I can gather, the U.S. space agency’s $79 million rocket was supposed to poke a giant hole in the Alan Shepard Memorial Golf Course, at which point all the water inside the moon would rain down on Earth — because the moon is up above and we’re down below and that’s how gravity works — thereby solving our planet’s impending water crisis.
Unfortunately, the expected Michael Bay-style cloud of ice and dust never materialized, leaving terrestrial blow-’em-up enthusiasts with only a small white flash on the moon’s surface to ogle through their telescopes. Kaboom-o-philes immediately voiced their dissatisfaction on Twitter — where intelligent discourse occasionally rises above the level of which soup users are eating to ward off swine flu — while the Man in the Moon posted his own message seconds later: “something just hit me n the ass & it stings like hell. omg, i am so not n the mood, ya’ll! WTF???”
Though the president hasn’t officially declared war on the moon yet, the U.S. is still trying to finish off the previous administration’s leftovers in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention discouraging Johnny Depp and Disney from filming the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie anywhere near Somalia.
Giving Obama the Peace Prize for the peace he might help bring about in the next three years sounds suspiciously like when parents give a teenager a new car as a bribe for good grades. “Barry, do you promise to achieve peace in the Middle East if we give you this prize?” In lieu of results, the Nobel committee accepts IOUs. (In case anyone from the Pulitzer committee is reading this, I promise my writing will improve if you give me a prize.)
I don’t mean to rain on the president’s parade, but I have a feeling that the Nobel outsiders are still trying to get the attention of that sexy bad boy George W. Bush. Sure, he’s a bully and not that smart, but boy howdy, what a smirk!
Two years ago they gave the Peace Prize to Al Gore, Bush’s Democratic opponent in the 2000 presidential election, and now Obama gets it. I mean, it ain’t like that mention of “the role that the United Nations … can play” was subtle by any means. Just let it go, Norway. I’m sure other democracy-hating democracy promoters (President Bush was nothing if not cleverly ironic) will come along eventually.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the entire Scandinavian subcontinent just felt bad for Obama because he couldn’t help his adopted hometown of Chicago win bragging rights to the 2016 Summer Olympics on October 2. I guess he didn’t trash his hotel room in Copenhagen last week or yell at any pastry chefs for getting his Danish order wrong, ensuring that Scandinavia would give him another prize a week later just so he’d make a return visit. Obama doesn’t court celebrity, but if those Scandinavians need a charismatic famous person to brighten their sunshine-free days, I don’t see any reason why we should stand in their way.
And speaking of celebrities, Obama needs to be careful that he doesn’t turn into the Jennifer Hudson or Affleck-and-Damon of Nobel Peace Prize recipients. Hudson won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her first film, 2006’s Dreamgirls, but her backstory — an American Idol reject who was expected to become a footnote to pop-culture history — was much more interesting than her performance.
Similarly, Good Will Hunting (1997) is an entertaining, feel-good drama, but Ben Affleck and Matt Damon most likely won the Best Original Screenplay award because of their off-screen trajectory: best friends since childhood (and tenth cousins, once removed, according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society), they wrote a movie for themselves to star in that quickly turned the duo into A-list leading men. Hooray for Hollywood! (Affleck’s first film after winning the Oscar in ’98 was Michael Bay’s Armageddon, in which NASA sends oil riggers, i.e. real men like George W. Bush, into space to blow up an asteroid.)
And hooray for our president, but most importantly, hooray for the United States, because for the majority of this decade our international reputation hasn’t been so hot. Jennifer Hudson’s life as an actor may take a backseat to her singing career, and Affleck and Damon will probably never write another screenplay together, so all President Obama has to do is make good on at least some of his promises for peace and he’ll be ahead of the game — at least the kind of game played by real celebrities, who have nothing to do with the fate of the nation, no matter what E! News tells us.
Before I go, I do have one complaint: The Nobel committee said that it “attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.” Good for him, but 22 years ago Superman gave his all to rid the world of nuclear weapons, only to be completely shut out during awards season!
Instead the 1987 Peace Prize was given to Oscar Arias SÁ¡nchez, who as president of Costa Rica signed peace accords to promote democracy in Central America. That’s great and all, but Superman gathered all the world’s nuclear weapons into a big net and threw them into the sun. Why wasn’t that noteworthy enough for a Nobel prize?
Of course, the resulting shock waves from the explosion of thousands of nuclear weapons in the heart of the sun should’ve been large enough and violent enough to incinerate everything and everyone on Earth and beyond. Luckily for us, Superman was stuck with low-budget special effects in 1987, much like NASA in 2009.
In fact, most Americans are having to make do with low budgets these days. The international community may be expecting President Obama to address the problems of peace around the world, but first he’ll be expected to address the peace of mind of frustrated constituents here at home.