[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/12/09/art.obamaspeech.gi.jpg caption="How is Obama being viewed in Europe?."]
London, England (CNN) - Few American presidents have been greeted with the enthusiasm Europe demonstrated for Barack Obama on his election. In part, it was a reaction against his predecessor - George W. was never loved in the EU - but there was also the feeling that Obama was a genuine multilateralist.
Europeans, who welcomed Obama as the candidate of change, didn't expect him to agree with them on everything, but they believed that he would at least listen to them.
So now that the showroom gloss is beginning to wear off Obama at home, now that U.S. poll respondents are indicating that the first dents and scratches are visible in the previously gleaming bodywork, how is he being seen between Ljubljana and Lisbon?
In Europe's capitals, as in many places, there was something of a gulp when the Nobel Peace Prize was announced, a feeling that it was being bestowed in hope of what was to come rather than in recognition of what had been achieved.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/10/09/oakley.obama.nobel/art.obama.speech.gi.jpg caption="A 'surprised and humbled' Obama said he would accept the Nobel peace prize as a 'call to action.'"]
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.