President Obama’s whirlwind visit to Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize upset some Norwegians when he bowed out of several traditional Nobel Prize events, including a Friday evening concert intended to spread the message of peace.
That concert itself is sending a decidedly mixed message this year, however, due to the inclusion of country singer Toby Keith. Keith is best known for his 2002 song “Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue,” in which he croons, “You’ll be sorry that you messed with the U-S-of-A cause we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way.”
Some members of the Norwegian parliament have criticized Keith’s participation, and Keith himself did little to smooth over the tension when he stated at a Friday morning press conference that he supports President Obama’s surge in Afghanistan because US war efforts are intended to “fight evil.”
Keith’s own political positions in the past have been all over the map. He endorsed the reelection of George Bush in 2004 while describing himself as a conservative Democrat similar to Senator Joe Lieberman. But he has also appeared in an Al Gore global warming commercial and insisted last year that he was tired of being blamed for the Iraq War, which he never supported.
Keith praised Barack Obama’s candidacy in August of 2008, but by October he was criticizing the media for painting him as an Obama supporter and indicating that he would probably vote for John McCain because of his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate.
“”I’ve been a lifetime Democrat, and I’m re-registering this year as an independent,” Keith told an interviewer. “It’s strictly [because] my party, that I’ve been affiliated with all these years, doesn’t stand for anything that I stand for anymore. They’ve lost any sensibility that they had, and they’ve allowed all the kooks in, so I’m going independent.”
“The kooks in the Democratic party — this extreme left — are hammering Palin so bad, that they’re gonna cause John McCain to win this thing,” Keith continued. “If the Democrats ever had a chance, after that Democratic convention, to win it, they blew everything they had by attacking her.”
More recently, Keith has been back in Obama’s corner, saying last spring that he was doing a “great job” by winding down the Iraq War and sending more troops to Afghanistan. With Keith trumpeting the virtues of escalation, however, it may be just as well for Obama to have gotten out of Norway early.
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 10, 2009.