Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama was so enigmatic that it skipped bad and went to laughable ... a punch line to a joke.
Part of the humor is due to the timing. A week before, on Friday, Oct. 2, the International Olympic Committee in the first round of voting had eliminated Chicago from the list of cities it was considering for the 2016 games. It was breathtaking, inexplicable and unimaginable -- a rebuke to the American president who had gone to pitch his adopted city to the IOC and come home empty-handed.
A week before, Obama had declared he would not go to Copenhagen to help Chicago in its bid. Instead, he would leave the pitch in the capable hands of his wife.
But three days out, Obama changed his mind, announcing he would indeed travel to Copenhagen to help clinch the victory for the Windy City. It seemed like a safe play -- first time a U.S. president goes to pitch a U.S. city for the Olympics -- it was sure to garner support and IOC votes
Surrounded by tough issues like Afghanistan, health care and rising unemployment while falling in the polls, Obama must have thought the Olympic bid was a safe, positive move that would make him a hometown hero.
But that's now how others perceived the Obamas' efforts. During her pitch to the IOC, "Michelle Obama used some form of the personal pronouns 'I' or 'me' 44 times," in 41 sentences according to George Will's column, "First couple all about first-person pronouns." President Obama used "I" or me" 26 times in 48 sentences. Combined, this adds to "70 times in 89 sentences."
The IOC members may have realized that the Obamas' bid was not about Chicago, but about the Obamas themselves. Alas, whatever the reasoning, a Chicago victory was not to be.
One week later, Obama woke up to the news that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. The press release from the Nobel Committee noted that this prize was awarded "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. ... His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."