A Very Political Nobel Prize
As is the case with most Nobel Prizes, Paul Krugman's was not awarded because of his recent work or writings. In that sense, this was not about politics. His prize-winning research took place decades ago. Nobel committees generally wait that long, to ensure that an historic breakthrough has been validated, and has had great impact. That's why there are usually dozens of candidates for each prize, each year.
Krugman, today, acknowledged that he had thought this day eventually might come, but he also admitted that he didn't think it would be this particular day. And that's the proof that this day was, actually, very much about politics. Because Krugman is relatively young, for a Nobel winner, the committee very easily could have waited another year or ten to honor him. He would have remained a perpetual candidate. But the committee clearly is aware of Krugman's political writings. They clearly knew that this award would lend to his political writings the ultimate form of popular validation and prestige.
With a critical election looming, and an economic crisis roiling the markets and frightening the public, the Nobel committee wants people paying attention to Paul Krugman. His political critics will continue to snipe at him. But how many of them are Nobel Prize-winning intellectuals?