I just heard the news. First reaction: shock. Like almost everyone else, it seems. Second reaction: what will be the effect of this, politically?

First, the only way I can wrap my head around this decision (while I’m still dazed by the surprise) is that President Obama won the Prize because he has turned the United States away ever so carefully from the dark, evil, warmongering, torturing regime of the B*sh/Cheney years.

When Obama was elected, it was like the fall of the Berlin Wall. A majority of the voters threw down a repressive regime and gave themselves new hope. Imagine if the outcome had been different, if John McCain were president, with Sarah Palin as VP.  Imagine the existential dread that would hang over the world.

Obama hasn’t really accomplished much in the realm of peace and international relations, but the mere act of steering the ship of state away from the belligerent aggressive approach of the previous administration was enough for the world to breathe a sigh of relief.

How will this play politically? Of course, the Right Wing will erupt into a purple raging tantrum. But enough about them, they’re insane anyway. I think the Nobel Peace Prize may become a burden for the President: he now has to live up to it. Of course, Barack Obama’s instincts have always been to promote peace, security, and international cooperation. He simply needs to do more, and do better. He needs to rediscover the sense of urgency to end B*sh’s botched wars in the Middle-East. He has already made some progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front, on Iran, on Russia and China. The Nobel Prize can be an impetus to continue along that vein.