In a major surprise, President Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize, making him the first sitting American president to win the prize since Woodrow Wilson in 1919. (Theodore Roosevelt was in office when he received the honor in 1906, and Jimmy Carter won some two decades after he left office.) The Nobel Committee's press release said the prize was "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons... Only 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. 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.
In announcing the prize, Committee head Thorbjoern Jagland 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?" So where was Barry when he got the news this morning?
In bed, according to a senior administration official, who tells the Times that press secretary Robert Gibbs called the president just before 6 a.m. to notify him. The source says, "The president was humbled to be selected by the committee"—and probably relieved he wasn't being woken up because the moon was obliterated. Rahm Emanuel says the White House had no clue Obama would receive the prize, which comes with a cool $1.4 million.
Asked why the prize had been awarded to Obama less than a year after he took office, Jagland said: "It was because we would like to support what he is trying to achieve. It is a clear signal that we want to advocate the same as he has done." Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, a former winner, told BBC, "It is an award that speaks to the promise of President Obama's message of hope." It's funny to think that just one year ago we were faced the with possibility of a McCain/Palin administration, and now there's a Nobel Laureate in office. It will be fun to see how the right wing pounces on this; we're sure Fox News is going to have a very big day.
Update: Here's video of Obama discussing the prize.