Published on Dec 10, 2009
http://elibaba.co.cc/ OSLO — President Barack Obama's decision to break with tradition and not follow the lead of past Nobel Peace Prize winners bewildered some Norwegians. Others thought he was being impolite.
Obama had quite a whirlwind day Thursday — he signed the Nobel guest book, huddled with Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, met with King Harald V and Queen Sonja, and delivered an acceptance speech after he was formally presented with the prize. He also joined the king and queen at an evening banquet.
But he skipped several other activities, including lunch with the king, a news conference at Oslo's Grand Hotel, CNN's traditional interview with the prize winner and a "Save the Children" benefit concert, where organizers replaced him with an Obama cardboard cutout. Obama also won't be around for Friday's Nobel Concert.
Obama blamed his schedule. "I still have a lot of work to do back in Washington, D.C., before the year is done," he said during an appearance with Stoltenberg. The president's quick visit also reflected a White House that saw little value in trumpeting an honor for peace just days after Obama announced he was sending more troops off to war.
In a survey published Wednesday in Norwegian VG daily, 53 percent of respondents said Obama's decision not to attend the Nobel Concert was "impolite," and 48 percent said the same of his decision to skip the CNN interview and the news conference. Forty-four percent disapproved of his decision to pass up lunch with the king.
The survey was conducted Dec. 8 by InFact. It involved telephone interviews with 1,000 people and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Siv Jensen, leader of the right-wing opposition Progress Party, told VG she thought Obama should "show some respect for the monarchy."
Jonathan Mann, the CNN reporter who for the past 15 years has interviewed the Nobel Peace laureate, said he wasn't offended at being turned down by Obama.
"He's a busy guy, essentially. We're not taking it personally," Mann told Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.