Apparently, the press has finally caught on to the fact that President Obama hasn’t done much other than breathe to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize.  In an unexpected moment of humility — from a man who canceled a lunch with the king of his host country — Obama agreed with them, for a moment, at least.  Jake Tapper has the details:

At his press conference in Oslo, Norway, with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, President Obama was asked by a local reporter about criticism that his pending Nobel Peace Prize is “premature” and how he can use the prize to “make some of your good intentions materialize?”

“Upon receiving news of the prize it was a great surprise to me,” the president said. “I have no doubt that there are others who may be more deserving.”

And, in fact, Obama — who has not been known as a tireless advocate for American exceptionalism — reminded the press that America has been a force for good, for justice, and for freedom for more than just the length of his presidency, emphasis mine:

“So on a whole host of initiatives that I’ve put forward this year, some of which are beginning to bear fruit, the goal is not to win a popularity contest or to get an award — even one as esteemed as the Nobel Peace Prize — the goal is to advance American interests, make ourselves a continuing force for good in the world. Something that we have been for decades now,” he said.

“And if I’m successful in those tasks then hopefully some of the criticism will subside, but that’s not really my concern,” he concluded. “And if I’m not successful then all the praise and the awards in the world won’t disguise that fact.”

That’s an excellent, and somewhat unexpected, reminder to the world of our service to the global community.  Well done, Mr. President.

On the other hand, Norwegians are vocally unhappy with what they perceive as a snub from Obama.  Nobel winners usually have a lunch with King Harald and host the opening of the Nobel exhibition of their own accomplishments.  Obama has instead declined Harald’s invitation and the exhibition (hat tip ex-pat Monica T) in this translation from Norway News:

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen thinks it is bad that U.S. President Barack Obama does not want to have lunch with King Harald. The Norwegian people agree with her in a poll which in fact made for VG.  According to the poll said 44 percent of the population that it is rude of Obama to drop lunch with the king of Norway.  34 percent thinks that Obama’s decision is entirely fair.  But even more responding that he drop the Nobel concert. 53 percent believe it is rude to do such a thing, while 27 percent understand that he does not set aside time to listen to, among others, Donna Summer.

Moreover, says 48 percent of the respondents that Obama should set up the press conference and interview with CNN.

Progress Party leader Siv Jensen is upset.

I think it is bad that he was cancelling the royal house. It is a central part of Norway’s management system, and he should have respect for the monarchy, “said Jensen.

Obama embarrassingly bowed to Emperor Akihito and Saudi King Abdullah, but can’t take a meal with Harald?  The Nobel committee must be regretting their award as Obama snubs the exhibition, too.  After all, they were the ones that honored him, and now Obama doesn’t have the time of day for them.  Norway News quotes a public-relations expert as saying that it’s in keeping with a low-profile approach to the award, but that’s very obviously the opposite of what the Nobel committee hoped to get from their selection of the inexperienced Obama.

Maybe the Pulitzer committee should take note.

Tags: Barack Obama