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Friday, March 06, 2009

Obama's Official Gift to British PM Brown: A Box of DVD's

Is it that the man has no class, doesn't care or both?

The British were already feeling snubbed when Gordon Brown showed up at the White House for his first meeting with Obama. Gone were the flags and the joint press conference that were a staple at this meetings in previous Administrations. Just a rather shabby chat before cameras in the Oval Office with Obama looking like he'd rather be somewhere else. This on top of the ejection from the Oval Office of the bust of Winston Churchill the British had loaned the U.S. after September 11th.

But British Prime Minister Brown was prepared to put that all behind him and brought with him to the White House some very thoughtful, historical official gifts to present to President Obama:

The first of which is a pen holder fashioned from the oak timber of HMS Gannet, a Navy vessel that served on anti-slavery missions off Africa.

Another treasure given to Obama is a framed commissioning paper for the HMS Resolute, a Royal Navy ship that came to symbolize British-American goodwill when it was rescued by the U.S. from icebergs and given to Queen Victoria. It is the sister ship of the HMS Gannet.

Finally, Brown gave Obama a first edition of Martin Gilbert's seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill, whose World War II partnership with President Franklin Roosevelt symbolized the U.S.-Anglo alliance.
So what did Obama give Brown? A box set of DVD's of American films.

Once again, the British are feeling a bit snubbed:

As he headed back home from Washington, Gordon Brown must have rummaged through his party bag with disappointment. Because all he got was a set of DVDs. Barack Obama, the leader of the world's richest country, gave the Prime Minister a box set of 25 classic American films - a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks.

Mr Brown is not thought to be a film buff, and his reaction to the box set is unknown. But it didn't really compare to the thoughtful presents he had brought along with him.

Want to know what was in the box set?

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Clearly, the British were embarrassed by Obama's thoughtlessness:

No10 had tried to keep the present a secret, refusing to answer reporters who asked what President Obama had given to mark the reaffirmation of the special relationship. However, the Evening Standard discovered the truth through White House insiders.

One reason for the secrecy might be that the gift seems markedly less generous and thoughtful than the presents taken to Washington by the Prime Minister.
A gift exchange between heads of government is a reflection of regard not just for the person the gifts are presented to but the people of the nation. What does Obama's gift say to the people of Great Britain?

While Obama put the pen holder made from the anti-slave ship on display on the Oval Office desk (It can hold the pens he uses to sign tax hikes that will put us all into slavery) one wonders what pride of place Gordon Brown will choose for the DVD collection?

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