Obama aide raged at Norway over Nobel prize
Norway’s ambassador to the US received an angry dressing down from Barack Obama’s chief of staff after the US President won his controversial Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, a senior Norwegian diplomat has claimed.
In an opinion piece in Norway’s Dagens Næringsliv business paper, Morten Wetland claims that Rahm Emanuel, nicknamed “Rahmbo” for his explosive disposition, took then ambassador Wegger Strömmen to task, accusing Norway of “fawning” to the new president.
“My most embarrassing day in the United Nations over the years I was the Norwegian ambassador there was the day the award to US President Barack Obama was announced,” Wetland wrote. “My colleague in Washington received an overhaul from Obama’s chief of staff. The word ‘fawning’ was used.”
Wetland, now a partner with the Oslo lobbying firm First House, explained to Norway’s VG newspaper why Emmanuel had become so irate.
“An American president likes to set their own agenda. This was a role imposed on him that he had not sought. Besides, he was only one year in its first term. It may have looked as if someone did this simply to get a visit from Barack Obama to their country.”
Wetland said that the Nobel Prize award had not been welcomed by Obama as it “did not serve his political strategy” and was widely seen as “weird” in the US.
Emanuel, who began life as an aide to Bill Clinton and is now mayor of Chicago, is notorious for his combative style.
Early on his career he reportedly sent a dead fish in a box to a pollster who was late delivering polling results. The night after Bill Clinton won the 1992, Emanuel reportedly stood up the celebratory dinner and ran through a list of Clinton enemies who had “betrayed” the team during the campaign. On each name, he plunged a stake into the table, shouting “Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead!” to the nervous laughter of his colleagues.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which though independent of Norway’s government consists of former MPs, often, as now, headed by a former Prime Minister. The committee’s present chair Thorbjørn Jagland has presided over two controversial awards, in 2009 to Barack Obama and in 2012 to the European Union. He is likely to be replaced this year.