According to Julie

Barack Obama, and other awkward party guests

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If President Obama really had to get a gift postmarked Scandinavia this month, he would probably, on the whole, have preferred the Olympics. At least at the Olympics the judges wait till after the race to give you the gold medal. They don’t force it on you while you’re still waiting for the bus to take you to the stadium.

We can take it as a sign of what a lucky fellow our President is that winning the Nobel Peace Prize has been widely counted a bad break for him.

– Hendrick Hertzberg in The New Yorker, October 2009

I’m still a political geek. I stayed up until 1:30 AM watching a documentary on Barack Obama’s election campaign last night.

When the Peace Prize was announced, my first reaction was that whoever put my FP Morning Brief together had made a serious journalistic error. But I didn’t get all that worked up about silly Norway, thorbjorning the President just so he would pay us a visit. I didn’t really get excited about the visit either. Honestly, as long as I don’t get to meet someone, there is no practical difference between being separated by the wall of City Hall (+ security) and being separated by the Atlantic Ocean. It was still pretty unlikely that I would run into Barack at the coffee shop.

And so I’m actually surprised at myself by how annoyed I am as Obama cancels event after event here in Oslo. I would like to think that it’s the journalist in me fuming at the fact that there will be time for exactly one question from the Norwegian media. But honestly, the journalist and the election geek sides of me are pretty calm compared to my inner party hostess.

It’s like when you invite someone to a dinner party, and you kind of get the impression that the invitation is a slightly awkward surprise, but they still accept right away. So you think everything’s fine and that all awkwardness can be avoided if you just set a place for them at your table and make a serious effort in the kitchen. Until they show up late, pick at their food and refuse wine, avoid talking with your other guests, keep their eyes and hands on their cell phones and disappear just as the party is about to get going, often effectively killing everyone else’s party mood. Wouldn’t it have been more polite to just decline the invitation?

“The American president is acting like an elephant in a porcelain shop,” said Norwegian public-relations expert Rune Morck-Wergeland. Yes, that is awkward.

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