The press release is here. Key paragraph:
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. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.Maybe next year they can give it to Santa, who has had a similar worldwide impact on hope, especially among THE CHILDREN.
Mankiw makes the main point here.
The Economist's Democracy in America blog offers competing accounts, but I think the "pro" account actually makes the negative case more strongly than the "con" account. Most of it consists of announcing things. Politicians are always announcing things. That's not the hard part. Not being George Bush is also not hard. McCain could have done that, so could Hilary Clinton. It is hardly award-worthy. It is like handing out pulitzers for not being Glen Beck or Lou Dobbs.
The Norwegians have made fools of themselves on this one. What were they thinking?
Addendum: another humorous take, this one from Dan Drezner.
Addendum 2: reason's "rapid response" video. Nick really is having too much fun.
Addendum 3: a remarkably prescient SNL skit
Hat tip (on addendum 3): Taylor Hui