No, this is about class, elegance, or the lack thereof. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, visiting recently, discovered just how classy and elegant his close American ally was when he and his wife visited this week. Oh, yeah.
As you may know, it is a long-standing tradition for heads of state to exchange gifts. The National Archives describes the custom:
Today gift-giving between heads of state is an important part of modern-day international relations. U.S. Presidents routinely meet face to face with leaders from every corner of the earth. These state visits shimmer with pomp and ceremony, including formal welcomes, elaborate dinners, and the exchange of gifts. As tokens of this ritual of diplomacy, gifts are enduring emblems of international cooperation and friendship.
Though gifts from foreign leaders bear a symbolic meaning, they also resonate with the variety and vibrancy of all the nations of the world. They range from native arts or antiques-prized pieces of a country's culture and heritage–to sparkling gold and gemstones. Other gifts are surprisingly sentimental, symbols of national or personal friendship. All enrich the relations between two countries and their leaders. And each recalls a moment in history, when two nations–often separated by oceans or ideology–briefly clasped hands.
Well, Gordon Brown certainly got the memo (H/T to Ed Morrissey at HotAir for the article). According to the Daily Mail, Prime Minister Brown presented the following to President Obama:
He 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 place in the Oval Office in the White House, after being presented by Britain to the US in 1880.
The Prime Minister went to the trouble of hunting down the perfect gift after becoming the first European leader invited to the White House by the new Commander In Chief...
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.
Wow. Prime Minister Brown really did put a great deal of thought into these gifts. How very generous, and considerate. Along with him, his wife did likewise:
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.
Well, no doubt, you are dying to know just what this classy, elegant man and his wife with the toned arms (seriously? This is now considered to be a trait worth of numerous articles? That's just sad.) gave the Prime Minister of one of our greatest allies. I'll let the article set the stage:
So it would be perfectly understandable if Mr Brown felt a little underwhelmed at the official gift he received in return.
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...
Despite being a 'special collector's box set', any film buff could have picked up the movies from their local video store for just £250.
It is not clear what the Prime Minister - not believed to a great fan of cinema - thought about receiving the films.
You read that right. President Obama gave Prime Minister Brown a box of DVDs (the list is at the bottom of the page). As for the First Lady, the one Vogue said we were waiting for:
Mrs Brown has been praised for her well-chosen gifts for the Obama children - but Mrs Obama's gift to the Brown children appeared less thoughtful...
In return, the Obamas gave the Browns two models of the presidential helicopter, Marine One, to take home to sons Fraser and John.
Huh - do you suppose those came from the White House Gift Shop or something?** And HONESTLY, that's the best they could, no, WOULD, do?? Two cheap plastic model helicopters? Wow, that Michelle is just bursting with good graces, clearly the "hostess with the mostest." Not. What, did they send one of their frat boys out to the Dollar General or something to pick up a couple of things for them? Heck, Michelle didn't even get the boys two DIFFERENT things for crying out loud (one could have gotten Air Force One, at least).
Holy cow - if this is what our president and his wife give people we like, what the hell do they give heads of state with whom we have issues? A deck of cards? A rubber-band airplane? A yo-yo with the presidential seal?? A pack of gum? Wow.
The article continues:
Downing Street yesterday (THURS) refused even to state which movies were in the box set - perhaps a reflection of their embarrassment that the gift was less generous than the ones taken to Washington by the Prime Minister.
But the Mail understands the gift included Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars, The Godfather and Orson Welles' ground-breaking flick Citizen Kane.
Perhaps pertinently given Britain is floundering in an economic slump, the DVD collection was thought to feature the movie of John Steinbeck's Great Depression novel, 'The Grapes Of Wrath'.
It also included the Oscar-winning boxing biopic 'Raging Bull' starring Robert Di Nero and Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho - maybe a comment on the PM's notorious short fuse?
And he will hope that at a General Election the British public do not shun his imploration for another term in office by thinking at the ballot box of the famous line from another of the movies, Casblanca: 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.'
But following Mr Brown's his recent troubles - the UK entering recession, soaring job losses and home repossessions, Labour struggling in the polls and threats of leadership challenges - he may be pleased at being able to settle down for a quiet night in front of the ultimate feel-good movie: It's A Wonderful Life.
Number 10 was staying silent about the gift, but the Mail has learned the American Film Institute produced a box set of 25 top U.S. movies as a "special request" for the White House last month.
Well, hell, if you had gone to as much trouble to find such a beautiful, perfect gifts, that clearly took a lot of thought and care, and you ended up with a box of dvds, would YOU want to tell everyone?? No!! What must Prime Minister Brown (and his wife) think of this All Hailed Obama now? Maybe they are getting a clue as to what many of us already knew. Poseurs.
The article continues:
The Prime Minister has not had the best of luck when receiving gifts from U.S. presidents.
He was given a fur-trimmed brown leather bomber jacket by George W. Bush during first trip to America in summer 2007.
Emblazoned with the presidential seal and the logo of Camp David, it also boasted a black patch bearing the name 'Rt Hon Gordon Brown'.
Commentators gleefully pointed out that the garment was hardly in keeping with Mr Brown's usual sober attire of business suit and tie.
Not surprisingly, it later emerged that the PM had decided not to keep the gift. Instead, he gave it to charity.
Um, I think the bomber jacket may have been a step up. Heck, I doubt the dvds will even do that much for charity since you can get them pretty cheaply just about ANYWHERE.
This is what happens when you surround yourself with 20-something frat boys who have demonstrated that they have NO sense of decorum. Or have a wife with no sense of decorum. Or when you yourself have no sense of decorum. You don't even think to hire people who DO because you don't know it's MISSING!!! Sheesh!
I just can't see how Obama's gift can be construed as anything else other than TACKY, TACKY, TACKY. Thoughtless. Classless. Clueless! And about as far from "elegant" as you can get. Just goes to prove the adage that having money does NOT mean you have class, and that is nowhere more evident than with the two currently occupying the White House. Elegant? Not even freakin' CLOSE.
Dammit - I sure hope I can get the theme of "The Beverly Hillbillies" out of my head sometime soon.
As promised, here are the movies the Obamas gave:
Movies in the box-set produced for the White House by the American Film Institute:
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
4. Raging Bull
5. Singing In The Rain
6. Gone With The Wind
7. Lawrence Of Arabia
8. Schindler's List
10. The Wizard Of Oz
11. City Lights
12. The Searchers
13. Star Wars: Episode IV
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey
16. Sunset Boulevard
17. The Graduate
18. The General
19. On The waterfront
20. It's A Wonderful Life
21. China Town
22. Some Like It Hot
23. The Grapes Of Wrath
24. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
25. To Kill A Mocking Bird.
** Turns out the cheap helicopters DID come from the White House Gift Shop. Holy Toledo. Again, how tacky.