Some have found the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision perplexing. Astounding. Enervating, even. But I see it as great news. In fact, I am very, very excited.
Just think. Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize means that anyone, anywhere can accomplish anything. All he or she has to do is....think about it.
The committee requires that nominations for the prize be sent in before Feb. 1 each year. This means that Obama was nominated about 12 days after he took office. Did something other than cocktail parties and the first family getting cozy in their new digs take place during those early days at the White House, that everyone somehow missed?
According to the Nobel Foundation, the prize is given to "the person who has done the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." I don't think Obama has held any peace congresses — short of, perhaps, refereeing arguments between his daughters.
Fraternity among nations? Air Force One had barely made it over the Atlantic at that time. And I haven't seen any pictures of the president puffing on a hookah pipe with Arab warlords. Bowing to them, yes. But that came after.
Oh, wait. Could it be for his "abolition or reduction of standing armies." Like those in ... Afghanistan? At last count, he had sent in 21,000 extra troops and is about to deploy 30,000 more. So much for peace.
Maybe that's why audience members in Oslo gasped when they heard Obama's name announced. They weren't the only ones. The Times of London called it "absurd," saying that the decision "makes a mockery of the prize." However, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who won the prize in 1984, told the Associated Press that the award acknowledged not what Obama had done, but that "great things are expected from him in coming years."
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg concurred. "The exciting and important thing about this prize is that it's given to someone ... who has the power to contribute to peace," he said. But Times reporter Michael Binyon highlighted the danger of handing out peace prizes based on hope.
"Mr Obama's prize is more likely...to be compared with the most contentious prize of all: the 1973 prize to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho for their negotiations to end the Vietnam war," he wrote. "Dr. Kissinger was branded a warmonger for his support for the bombing campaign in Cambodia; and the Vietnamese negotiator was subsequently seen as a liar whose government never intended to honor a peace deal but was waiting for the moment to attack South Vietnam."
Obama joins a list of revered names. The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel, Andrei Sakharov, Lech Walêsa all received the Nobel Peace Prize. So did Mother Teresa.
Mother Teresa and Barack Obama. Martin Luther King and Barack Obama. Ever think you'd hear those names in the same sentence?
Mahatma Ghandi was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize but never received one. Just think about that for a second.
Don't get me wrong. I'm sure President Obama is a great guy, with noble aspirations. But Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King he is not.
I, for one, am looking on the bright side, however. After all, if we're now handing out major awards to anyone who has "the power" to achieve the things that these awards symbolize, we're all in luck.
It means I might receive an Oscar, based on the screenplays I'm writing. It means that one of my colleagues in the newsroom might receive the Pulitzer Prize, based on future stories she might write. Come to think of it, I'd like one of those, too, please.
It means that my daughter, who just qualified for the pre-swim team at the YMCA, should just go ahead and collect her gold medal for the 200 meter butterfly in the 2020 Olympics. Hey, she has the power. She has the potential. She may even master the dolphin kick soon.
So forget the recession. Forget unemployment. Forget Paris. If you're one of those people who never wins anything, this is your lucky day.
Heisman Trophy? Grammy? Rhodes Scholarship? Just step right up, folks, and send in your nominations, folks.
Oh, and don't forget to e-mail me your Social Security number, date of birth and underwear size, so I can deposit the $2.4 million prize money in your bank account, too.
Annabelle Robertson is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Southern Girl's Guide to Surviving the Newlywed Years: How to Stay Sane Once You've Caught Your Man. She lives in Sumter, SC.