LONDON (CNN) - Did President Obama land a Nobel peace prize at such an early stage of his presidency simply because he's not George W. Bush?
Diplomatic circles are certainly not dismissing such a notion and a "surprised and humbled" Obama has himself agreed that the award (for which nominations had to be submitted only two weeks after his inauguration) can hardly have been a recognition of anything he has yet accomplished. It is a prize for aspiration rather than achievement.
One of the best deliberate laughs Bush obtained in his last days in office came when he expressed himself pleased at the street reception during his attendance at a NATO summit in Romania.
"A lot of the crowd were waving... some of them with all five fingers," he said.
Bush was acknowledging that many in Old Europe at least could not wait to say goodbye to a man whom they saw as a Cold Warrior at heart, the president who had led the world into a disastrous intervention in Iraq and a man heading a gas-guzzling nation who was not prepared to help the world cope with climate change.
For many Europeans, the chief concern through the long, drawn-out race for the Democratic nomination and through the presidential election was that the result should give them anybody but Bush.