by | Oct 11, 2009 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Did you get yours? I didn’t get mine. Not yet, anyhow. My Nobel Peace Prize. I hope it’s in the mail.

I know it’s coming. And I have just the place for it. Above the fireplace, next to the photo of my parents. They’ll be so proud.

Of course, they get one, too.

And so do you. So does every American. Oh sure, it was President Barack Obama who was officially announced the winner Friday. But come on. The nomination deadline was Feb. 1, less than two weeks after his inauguration. What had Obama done by Feb. 1?

Nothing. Except get elected.

And who did that? We did.

So. Did you get yours yet? Anybody-but-Bush award?

I’m serious. Did you hear what Thorbjørn Jagland, the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, told the news media after Obama was announced? He said: “The question we have to ask is, ‘Who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world?’ And who has done more than Barack Obama?”

Hmm. I’d say a lot of people.

Or that was a helluva 12 days.

After all, Obama, in his first two weeks, didn’t stop any wars. He didn’t dismantle any nuclear plants. He still hasn’t. Afghanistan is a mess. Iran is saber rattling. Near as I can tell, Obama now has an award that Mahatma Gandhi never won mostly because he is not George W. Bush.

In fact, the five Norwegian committee members must have viewed Bush as such a warmongering, divisive force, that Obama got 100 points just for moving in when Bush moved out.

And, not to pat our own backs, but who was responsible for that? We were. The American people. OK, so not everyone voted for Obama, but we’re all in this together. Majority rules, everyone shares. Anyhow, who’s going to admit they voted against Obama today, when it means a nice little Nobel Prize to put in the basement, next to the signed Barry Sanders jersey?

Congratulations, fellow planet-savers. Hoping for a bright future

“We want to embrace the message that he stands for,” Jagland declared. Right. So did we. Of course, until this past week, we didn’t know you could get a Nobel Prize for that, or we might have voted earlier.

But I guess the qualifications have shifted. How else can you explain a prize that has gone to monks, martyrs, surgeons, long-suffering civil rights activists, scientists who labor for peace, Nazi hunters, Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa – Mother Teresa! – now going to a man who spent most of last year campaigning for president, and most of this year trying to get a health care plan off the ground.

Hey, I like Obama. But if that gets you a Nobel Peace Prize, there’s a lot of people this morning yelling, “Gyp!”

Even Obama seemed embarrassed.

“I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize,” he said.

At least he’s honest. And humble. Which is more than you can say about the communications director of the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, who lashed out at Republicans who criticized the award as having “thrown in … with the terrorists.”

That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? I don’t believe Brad should get his award. We can give two to someone else.

All of this controversy only proves what we have long suspected, that nobody really knows what a Nobel Prize is. It takes a controversy to get it noticed – kind of like Kanye West’s stealing the mike from Taylor Swift.

Jagland readily admitted the whole thing was a gamble on the future, kind of like giving an Oscar to Russell Crowe’s 5-year-old son, figuring he’ll probably earn it one day.

One Nobel official declared to the New York Times: “We are very optimistic that this will turn out to be a success,” which is usually what you say when you give a loan, not a prize.

But hey. The committee feels like Obama is a winner, and that makes us winners for electing him, and I am proud, and you should be proud, and we all should clear some space on the bookshelf, because suddenly, this long-time Scandinavian award has got red, white and blue all over it.

After all, when Jagland was asked by a reporter whether the committee feared being labeled naïve, he shrugged and said, “Well, so?”

If that’s not an American answer, what is?

Contact MITCH ALBOM: 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New book, The Little Liar, arrives November 14. Get the details »

Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

Subscribe for bonus content and giveaways!