President Obama said Friday that he does not feel he deserves "to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored" with the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet when one of the peace prizes' most recognizable laureates, the Dalai Lama, came to Washington, DC this week, the president decided not to meet with him.
In the Rose Garden this morning, the president spoke of his fellow laureates as "men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace." One such figure is the Dalai Lama, who won the prize in 1989, shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre. But the president passed on the chance to sit down with him this week, in a move skeptics say was made to save face with the Chinese.
In fact, the president didn't just become a Nobel laureate this week. He also became the first U.S. leader since 1991 not to meet in person with the Dalai Lama when he visited Washington DC.
On "Washington Unplugged" Friday, actor Richard Gere, who has long backed freedom for Tibet, said he thinks the White House decision may have set back his cause. He told CBS News' Michelle Levi that "I think it threw us a bit because he is the first president in 20 years who has not met his holiness soon in office although I can see the strategy of that of creating a relationship with the Chinese with Huijin Tao specifically."
U.S. Representative Peter King also criticized the president for the decision. He told Levi that by snubbing the Dalai Lama, Mr. Obama "is sending a signal of appeasement and weakness."