Vantage point

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobels (plural) for Obama?

Almost everyone is shocked and amused that President Obama will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year, less than 9 months into his first term. People think it's a mistake and very premature to give him an award before he has done anything meaningful. I vehemently disagree. The Nobel committees' mistake has been to give him only that one prize. This should have been a year of a total Obama sweep.

This horrendous mistake can be at least partially atoned for by announcing him the winner of the Economics prize next week. The Swedish bank should take note. He rolled out the biggest stimulus package in history and managed to stimulate the economy by spending just a fraction of it! He caused a shocking (although temporary) upswing in GM's year-on-year sales figures for a couple of months! And he has managed to convince the smartest man in the world (himself) that he can spend trillions on everything and yet reduce the deficit, a miracle that defies the laws of math. How can some bald, bearded, bespectacled professors whose achievements are limited to academic journals, ever compare to such achievements in Economics?

The Literature prize should also have gone to him. He has written two books, both bestsellers. Books that served as launchpads for the most remarkably historic election win in human history. Anyone can write books that launch revolutions. But books that launch campaigns? How could the committee have overlooked that? Herta Muller's writings depict the "landscape of the dispossessed", they say? Obama's books have made most of the country act like they are possessed!

Now we come to Medicine. Obviously! Like duh! Healthcare reform! Winners of the Medicine prize are usually recognized for one idea that. Obama has had so many ideas on healthcare in the last 2 years. He went from talking about a single payer system, to talking about a Congress-like plan for America, to supporting a public option, to spurning a public option, to whatever he thinks should be done now. If the Peace prize is meant as encouragement or impetus for what he is trying to do, the same logic could have worked for healthcare reform. I don't see how anyone other than the President deserved this prize.

Physics is next. This might seem like a bit of a stretch, but bear with me here. You the reader might not agree, but I am sure the Nobel Peace Prize committee will back the soundness of my argument. Think about the laws of motion. The first one. In the absence of force, a body maintains its state of rest or motion in straight line at constant speed. Obama, not through his research, but through his behavior, has debunked this so-called law. Without anyone applying any force or pressure whatsoever, he has seamlessly changed the direction of so many of his policies. Don't-ask-don't-tell was, he said as a candidate, something that is not just morally wrong, but practically wrong, and should be repealed right away. Nine months later, he seems to be traveling in the opposite direction. The same story with torture, rendition, personal privacy, limits on executive power, and so on. A remarkable 180-degree shift without any force being applied. Screw you, Newton! Physics Nobel for Obama!

Chemistry is, admittedly the hardest. And after contriving phony reasons for all these prizes, I am as mentally exhausted as the Peace prize committee must have been after crafting their press release. So I am just going to say..... he catalyzed the whole nation and indeed the whole world with his election. Catalysis - chemistry - give him the effing prize already.

And don't think I have forgotten about the Fields Medal. By not getting anything meaningful done after having huge majorities in both chambers of Congress, he has dealt a telling blow to the universally accepted mathematical canard of "Majority". But that can wait until he gives 2 full years worth of empirical evidence of being able to do anything even with those huge numbers.

Written with inputs from Aadisht G. Khanna.