This is inconsistent with Alfred Nobel's will that Nobel Prizes are to be dedicated to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
The criteria for awarding the prize include the "most or best work." This is the second part of the humor. With no real body of work to point to, Obama was awarded the prize based on his "extraordinary efforts."
It was a prize of encouragement rather than an award for accomplishment.
Previous Nobel Prize winners made us stretch to become better, to emulate the work and courage they had displayed. Mother Teresa lived and worked with the poor for 30 years; Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years but continued to spread his message of peace and reconciliation.
The previous United States presidents who were awarded the prize were recognized only after they had demonstrated hard work and accomplishments in specific areas. Woodrow Wilson helped create the League of Nations; Theodore Roosevelt crafted peace between Russia and Japan; and Jimmy Carter helped fashion the Camp David Accords.
Metrics, goals, accomplishments -- these words sound so businessey, so hard and hemmed in. They are more operational than inspirational.
For Obama, a man known for his ability to inspire, the trick will be whether he can transition from being an inspirational leader to an operational one. Without real accomplishments, his ongoing exhortations will begin to ring hollow in Americans' ears.
The appeasing comfort prize will provide Obama and other Americans with little reassurance.
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