FW: Pool Report #7

-----Original Message-----
From: Freedman, Dan [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, May 13, 2016 10:14 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Gabriel, Brian A. EOP/WHO
Subject: Pool Report #7

Pool Report #7

Pool escorted into a most unusual state dinner just before 9. It was not in the State dining room but rather in a tent under the stars on the South Lawn. Calling this expansive (albeit temporary) structure a tent is like calling a Pyramid a tool shed. The vaulting ceiling plexiglass panels had holiday-style lights strung beneath them and the trees above were illuminated by spotlights outside. Quite a sight.

Per White House, this is the headtable:

THE PRESIDENT and MRS. OBAMA

HIS EXCELLENCY SAULI NIINISTÖ, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND

MRS. JENNI HAUKIO

HER EXCELLENCY ERNA SOLBERG, PRIME MINISTER OF NORWAY

MR. SINDRE FINNES

HIS EXCELLENCY STEFAN LÖFVEN, PRIME MINISTER OF SWEDEN

MRS. ULLA LÖFVEN

HIS EXCELLENCY LARS LØKKE RASMUSSEN, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK

MRS. SÓLRUN LØKKE RASMUSSEN

HIS EXCELLENCY SIGURÐUR INGI JÓHANNSSON, PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF ICELAND

MRS. INGIBJÖRG ELSA INGJALDSDÓTTIR

The president started off the evening's round of toasts with a riff on Vikings, contrasting their raucous behavior of centuries gone by with the modesty and politeness of today's Nordic population.

(Check transcript) ``We can all admit the Vikings could be a little rough. They didn't have the best manners at the dining table. Their outfits weren't always appropriate. But times have changed. And tonight our Nordic friends are much better behaved.''

He quoted an old Norse saying and couldn't keep from laughing as he described one of Norway's favorite TV shows, ``National Firewood Night.''

It's ``logs burning for hours . . .and hours. It's crazy,'' the president said. But he quickly added that all the Nordic countries are orderly and clean, and they have an argument going on over ``which country is happiest.'' They've even debated the hometown of Santa Claus, he added.

But then the jokes ended and the president got serious. ``We stand together so our citizens can live together in peace.'' He reiterated common interests in education and fighting climate change. He also talked about Nordic influence on the famous Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, which was a training ground for a generation of civil rights champions including Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis and MLK himself. The president said he himself would not be standing there if it were not for ``the ripple effect'' of the teachings and philosophy of such places.

He reiterated his ``punch above their weight'' line about the Nordic countries' values and contributions. He toasted common values and equality for all, finishing with ``Skoll, cheers!''

The Prime Minister of Iceland, SIGURÐUR INGI JÓHANNSSON, had a funny line about strong connections to the U.S., and values and culture that ``yes, sometimes includes artists in swan dresses.''

But the Prime Minister of Denmark LARS LØKKE RASMUSSEN, brought the house down. He teased President Obama about the ``punching above its weight'' line, saying that ``after tonight's dinner, we will all step up to a new weight class.''

He went through the various artists in America of Nordic dissent, including Scarlet Johansen and Matt Damon. But he slyly left Norway out and when he finally came around to them, he said: ``Well, they gave you Karl Rove!''

He paid the president the ultimate compliment by saying ``you're the best president you (the U.S.) ever had.'' He hinted at his admiration for ``the Donald'' before revealing he was talking about Donald Tusk, the Polish president of the European Council.

When he finished, POTUS paid him the ultimate compliment: ``I think we just identified the next comic for the White House Correspondents Dinner.''

Dan Freedman

Hearst Newspapers Washington Bureau

-Albany Times Union

-Connecticut Post

-Danbury News-Times

-Greenwich Time

-Norwalk Hour

-Stamford Advocate

xxx-xxx-xxxx

Twitter: @danfreedma

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