The political world awoke this morning to a collective, confused "What the..." Bottom line: the pressure on President Obama to Get Things Done has just been ratcheted up by several orders of magnitude.
Let's stipulate that the response from political conservatives in America is going to be predictable and uninteresting. (The Swedes have a habit of awarding the prize to Democrats that most provoke the ire of conservative partisans. And to Yasser Arafat.)
Domestically -- well, it's easy to overthink this: figuring out how to graciously accept one of the world's most coveted honors is not the worst dilemma to have, and in a sense, the Nobel committee was recognizing and validating the identity that Americans -- a bare majority of them, yes -- held on election night: a collective rejection of the past eight years, through democratic means, and the act of choosing a president who stood for something completely different -- a rejuvenation.
The start of the administration coincided with the onset of a deep economic recession, which usually correlates with a deepening anxiety about American identity, a return to isolationism, a mistrusting of the the way the world evaluates the country. For months, the Obama administration has been trying to keep America out of that gutter, at least on an elite level. Politically, independents who distrust Obama's policies and yet like his style -- the way he fits into our historical conception of the presidency, the way he inhabits the values of pragmatism, the way he is restoring America's credibility in the world -- will be just fine with the newest Nobel laureate.