For nine-year Nobel committee veteran Inger-Marie Ytterhorn, Obama's demeanor spoke volumes when he first acknowledged the award during a news conference Friday on the lawn of the White House Rose Garden.
"I looked at his face when he was on TV and confirmed that he would receive the prize and would come to Norway, and he didn't look particularly happy," she told the AP by telephone.
"Obama has a lot of problems internally in the United States and they seem to be increasing. Unemployment, health care reform: They are a problem for him," she said.
She acknowledged there was a risk the prize might backfire on Obama by raising expectations even higher and giving ammunition to his critics. "It might hamper him," Ytterhorn said, because it could distract from domestic issues.
Still, she added: "Whenever we award the peace prize, there is normally a big debate about it" so the Obama controversy was not unexpected.
It was unusual, however, for the Nobel jury to speak out so candidly about their selection.
Aagot Valle, a left-wing Norwegian politician who joined the Nobel panel this year, also dismissed suggestions that Obama was undeserving of the honor. (See full story here at ABC News)