Barack Obama's trip to Oslo to pick up his Nobel peace award is in danger of being overshadowed by a row over the cancellation of a series of events normally attended by the prizewinner.If I am invited to a party at a house, it is expected that I make an appearance with the host/hostess. It is a matter of respect. The Nobel Prize is a party thrown by the King of Norway. Laureates, no matter what the prize is, should make an effort to make an appearence with the host.
Norwegians are incensed over what they view as his shabby response to the prize by cutting short his visit.
The White House has cancelled many of the events peace prize laureates traditionally submit to, including a dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee, a press conference, a television interview, appearances at a children's event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as a visit to an exhibition in his honour at the Nobel peace centre.
He has also turned down a lunch invitation from the King of Norway.
According to a poll published by the daily tabloid VG, 44% of Norwegians believe it was rude of Obama to cancel his scheduled lunch with King Harald, with only 34% saying they believe it was acceptable.
"Of all the things he is cancelling, I think the worst is cancelling the lunch with the king," said Siv Jensen, the leader of the largest party in opposition, the populist Progress party. "This is a central part of our government system. He should respect the monarchy," she told VG.
If you are the head of state to any country and you are visiting another country, then you should make time to have a meal with the head of state of the country you are visiting. This isn't about politics or the fact that I don't think the President earned the Peace Price, it is a matter of protocol and politeness.
If the King of Norway came to the U.S., the White House would be apoplectic if the King said to the President "Thanks but I don't want to have lunch with you."
This is just another example of the amatuerism of the Obama White House.