I may not agree with the course being taken by President Obama on the economic crisis, and a couple of his cabinet appointments could have been more thoughtful, but I’ve tried not to pile on him too much and support what he does well. Some news today from our friends in England, however, has truly set my teeth on edge. I’ll let the Daily Mail explain the details of the Great Brit Gift Debacle. (Hat tip to Hot Air.)
He [Britain’s Prime Minister] had put clearly great thought into giving the U.S. President lavish gifts to signify Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the U.S.
During his historic trip to Washington, Gordon Brown gave Barack Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet – once called HMS President.
The unique present delighted Mr Obama because oak from the Gannet’s sister ship, HMS Resolute, was carved to make a desk that already takes its place in the Oval Office in the White House, after being presented by Britain to the US in 1880.
Mr Brown also took to Washington a framed commission for HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to mark Anglo-US peace when it was saved from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria.
He also gave a first edition set of the seven-volume classic biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert.
During their first meeting, you would expect the Obamas to respond in kind to one of our closest historical allies. But… not so much.
For despite being leader of the world’s most bountiful nation, President Obama handed over nothing more thought-provoking than 25 classic American films on DVD.
It was the equivalent of receiving a pair of socks from an unfamiliar aunt at Christmas – and a less-than-glowing affirmation of the UK-US bond.
It seems that the First Lady didn’t fare much better.
Mr Brown and his wife also showered gifts on the Obama children giving Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children’s books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America.
In return, the Obamas gave the Browns two models of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, to take home to sons Fraser and John.
I could go on a serious jag here about exactly how embarrassing this was, but I think the press coverage speaks for itself here. Is this the end of the world? No. But the new First Family is going to need to do a lot better than this on the international diplomacy front.