The Nobel Committee awards its 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation. The Washington Post adds:
"The announcement, less than nine months after Obama took office, sparked immediate questions from reporters in Oslo about whether the Nobel committee was acting prematurely in rewarding a world leader who has outlined a lofty and ambitious agenda but has not yet made many concrete steps toward realizing it.
But Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the five-member Nobel committee, said 'we have not given the prize for what may happen in the future. We are awarding Obama for what he has done in the past year. And we are hoping this may contribute a little bit for what he is trying to do.' In making the announcement, the committee said Obama has "created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play."
The New York Times adds the announcement was "so astonishing that the audience in the Norwegian capital of Oslo gasped."
The White House was not notified about the award prior to the 5am announcement and has little comment.
UPDATE: Right-wing commenters launch an attack. Red State's Eric Erickson calls it an "affirmative action quota."