Am I awake?

The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama’s name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president…

The Nobel committee praised Obama’s creation of “a new climate in international politics” and said he had returned multilateral diplomacy and institutions like the U.N. to the center of the world stage. The plaudit appeared to be a slap at President George W. Bush from a committee that harshly criticized Obama’s predecessor for resorting to largely unilateral military action in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Rather than recognizing concrete achievement, the 2009 prize appeared intended to support initiatives that have yet to bear fruit: reducing the world stock of nuclear arms, easing American conflicts with Muslim nations and strengthening the U.S. role in combating climate change.

“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,” Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee said.

In other words, they gave him a Nobel for … being Hopenchange-y. And you thought Mark Halperin’s grade inflation was bad. This makes three times, incidentally, in just seven years that the committee’s turned the Peace Prize into a “f*** Bush” award by bestowing it on a liberal American Democrat. The Goracle got it in 2007 and Carter received it in 2002, making today’s announcement yet one more reason to consider The One his presidential heir.

Stand by for updates while I go look around for Rod Serling. Exit question: There was no one more deserving? Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe’s nemesis in Zimbabwe? Iranian protesters? Hello?

Update: Even in Oslo, gasps from the crowd. And this: “There was no immediate comment from the White House 0fficials, who also appeared to be surprised by the decision.”

Update: Regarding that alleged “new climate in international politics,” which aspects of Obama’s foreign policy thus far are any different from Bush’s? He’s increased troop levels (slightly) in Afghanistan, he’s kept up the drone attacks on Al Qaeda and the Taliban, he’s broken his promise to close Gitmo by January, he’s approved “rendition lite” and indefinite detention without trial for some terrorist suspects, and he’s let himself be jerked around in nuclear negotiations with Iran. There’s a reason why, aside from his handling of Honduras, he’s gotten comparatively little flak from conservatives on international relations. To this point, contrary to what the Nobelistas would have you believe, not much has Hopen-changed.

Update: Last Friday, there was global disbelief that Obama had lost. This Friday, there’s global disbelief that he won.

The announcement, coming extraordinarily early in Mr. Obama’s presidency — less than nine months after he took office as the first African American president — shocked people from Norway to Washington.

The White House had no idea it was coming.

“There has been no discussion, nothing at all,” said Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in a brief telephone interview.

Update: Ah, I forgot his retreat on missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic up above, which certainly qualifies as anti-Bushian Change We Can Believe In. But the larger point stands. See this piece from British lefty rag the New Statesman hurling the worst insult it can muster (in photographic form) at The One for his terror-related policies.

Update: Even media Obamaphiles can’t believe it. Check out the Financial Times — “It is hard to point to a single place where Obama’s efforts have actually brought about peace” — or the Times of London, declaring that the committee’s made a mockery of the award.

Rarely has an award had such an obvious political and partisan intent. It was clearly seen by the Norwegian Nobel committee as a way of expressing European gratitude for an end to the Bush Administration, approval for the election of America’s first black president and hope that Washington will honour its promise to re-engage with the world.

Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace…

Mr Obama becomes the third sitting US President to receive the prize. The committee said today that he had “captured the world’s attention”. It is certainly true that his energy and aspirations have dazzled many of his supporters. Sadly, it seems they have so bedazzled the Norwegians that they can no longer separate hopes from achievement. The achievements of all previous winners have been diminished.

Dude, they gave a Nobel to Arafat. Any credibility the prize once had is long, long gone. Serious question, though: Is today’s announcement good news or bad news for The One? The last thing he needs with the press buzzing about last week’s SNL skit is a global reminder that his stature is grossly disproportionate to his actual achievements.

Update: Good question from Ann Althouse. If they were going to go this deep into the tank, why not just give him the literature Nobel too for writing “Dreams From My Father”?

Update: Fun on the set of “Morning Joe” as Scarborough and Mark Halperin — yes, even Mark “A-” Halperin — compare Obama’s win to Marisa Tomei’s Oscar, eliciting an e-mail from an unnamed senior White House official calling Scarborough an A-hole. But who, oh who, among Obama’s top aides is known for gratuitous profanity?

Update: Kaus is his usual clever self. Decline the award, Barry:

Say he’s honored but he hasn’t had the time yet to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. Result: He gets at least the same amount of glory–and helps solve his narcissism problem and his Fred Armisen (‘What’s he done?’) problem, demonstrating that he’s uncomfortable with his reputation as a man overcelebrated for his potential long before he’s started to realize it.

Update: More from Mark Halperin, a guy who gave The One a preposterous A- for his first nine months in office and is now aghast that the Nobel committee gave him an A+. Meanwhile, at which rabidly right-wing blog did this headline appear this morning: “Whatever Happened to Awarding for Deeds Actually Done?” Answer here.

Update: Our newly minted Taliban “partners in peace” are underwhelmed by the announcement. “We condemn the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for Obama.”

Update: A clever point by Frum, too, noting this is less an act of Obama-worship by the committee than an attempt to warn him away from tough action on Iran, Afghanistan, or Palestine. Quote: “The Nobel Committee was not rewarding Obama. It was attempting to geld him.”

Update: For once, Rush Limbaugh and Frum are on the same page:

“This fully exposes the illusion that is Barack Obama,” Limbaugh told POLITICO in an e-mail. “And with this ‘award’ the elites of the world are urging Obama, THE MAN OF PEACE, to not do the surge in Afghanistan, not take action against Iran and its nuclear program and to basically continue his intentions to emasculate the United States.”

Limbaugh continued: “They love a weakened, neutered U.S and this is their way of promoting that concept. I think God has a great sense of humor, too.”

Update: This makes it just about unanimous:

Two key White House aides were both convinced they were being punked when they heard the news, reported ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.

“It’s not April 1, is it?” one said.

Update: So ridiculous is this that George Stephanopoulos has taken to pulling the best Obama/Nobel jokes off of Twitter. More than one was written by a liberal. A good one from Ezra Klein:

Obama also awarded Nobel prize in chemistry. “He’s just got great chemistry,” says Nobel Committee.