My wife woke me with the ridiculous news that Barack Obama, who has been in office for eight months and achieved no notable peace, won the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Seriously, what has he done?" I asked.
"He gives hope to people, just by being!" she said. It was a joke, but I see that that's indeed part of the Nobel Committee's reasoning:
"Very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said in a citation.
Among many other things, this selection illustrates the United States' way-too-oversized role in the world's imagination. And it shows how people–almost touchingly–remain suckers for likeable politicians who replace guys they hated, investing in them a kind of faith mere mortals usually don't merit. As Chili Davis famously (and presciently) said about Dwight Gooden, "He ain't God, man."