Minnesota's sizable Nordic community is ramping up pressure on Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken to buck the White House and oppose President Obama's nominee for ambassador to Norway.
Opponents are gathering names for an online petition seeking a new nominee.
New York businessman George Tsunis angered many in Norway and the United States in February, when he stumbled through a Senate confirmation hearing:
The Daily Circuit interviewed T. Michael Davis, an attorney who is helping lead the effort to oppose the Tsunis nomination. Highlights from that conversation:
Envoys should be 'best face' for the U.S.
"We expect that our ambassadors ... are going to be the best face for the United States of America. In this case, the individual in question has already shown that he has no knowledge of the country he's going to, he has no connections to it and he doesn't speak the language, for example, which is normal with most other diplomats from around the world when they're going to another country. With those types of skills, a diplomat should be able to read what's happening within that country, what's happening within that political system. And here, the individual nominated has shown that he has absolutely none of the tools needed to do that.
"And in the situation that's stirring right now in Ukraine and Crimea with Russia, Norway has become even more important ... . And the ambassador's job there is to read what's happening, not only in Norway but the other Nordic and Baltic countries — there are very close ties there — and to be able to help direct American policy, so that very bad things can be avoided. ..."
Would no choice be better than a bad choice?
MPR News' Euan Kerr asked Davis about the possibility that the protest against Tsunis might result in the Oslo post going unfilled for the remainder of Obama's term.
"Norway has been the country in the world that has been able to bridge conflicts with Russia. ... There are skills and knowledge there and relationships that we need to leverage to make sure that the bad things that could happen, relating to Ukraine and Crimea, don't happen. It's not an acceptable answer, that that seat is going to be left open. And it's not an acceptable answer that that seat would be taken by somebody who has shown himself to have none of the skills."