The Great Obama G20 Gift Roundup
When UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown skipped across the pond to visit a few weeks ago, the British head-of-state presented the new American president with a gift of priceless caliber: an ornamental wooden pen holder made from the timbers of a famous Victorian anti-slave ship (which also happens to be the sister ship from which the Resolute desk in the Oval Office was carved).
In return, Mr. Obama gave a not-so-priceless gift—in fact, it reportedly cost between $375 and $500. In exchange for the symbolic pen holder, Mr. Brown returned to England with a box set of DVDs.
It's rumored a fruit cake and a singing hallmark card were also thrown in—free of charge, of course.
The Russians also experienced a little Obama hospitality themselves. When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the Russian Foreign Minister earlier this month, as a gesture of goodwill she gave a small, faux red button bearing the English word “reset” and the Russian word “Peregruzka.” Mrs. Clinton apparently forgot the check the English-Russian dictionary because “Peregruzka” doesn't mean “reset” at all—it means “overcharged.” Oops.
And although it's doubtful that “overcharged” was a clever reference to the DVD box set, who honestly knows? Either way, at least this gift was meant to be meaningful.
The bottom line is this: Barack Obama's ineptitude has been glaringly obvious when it comes to almost anything requiring a truly personal touch—such as selecting appropriate presents.
So as he prepares to jet off to the G20 summit in London this Thursday, we've decided to help the President out by preparing a list of tactful and diplomatically sensitive gifts he ought to consider giving to some of the other world leaders who've yet to receive their DVDs or fake “overcharged” buttons.
• For the Canadian head-of-state, how about giving an article of clothing? After all, Canada can get awfully cold. We'd recommend this shirt. And it reads: “Canada: America's Hat”. (Or maybe “I'm a Canuck.”)
• For China, we'd recommend the President cordially send Nadya Suleman—otherwise known as “Octomom”—as a special emissary on population issues.
• While Barack Obama is in the clothes aisle shopping for Canada's gift, perhaps he could pick up a shirt for Mexico's Felipe Calderon as well. Here's a good one. It reads: “Mexico: America's Beard.” (Or, perhaps knowing Mr. Obama's love of DVDs, he could get that old comedy classic “My name José Jiménez.")
• Nothing says goodwill like a little comfort food. The Indian head of state might appreciate a gift certificate to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
• And how about giving a gift certificate to Outback Steakhouse to Australia's Prime Minister? Nothing conveys respect like a hearty bellyful of America's best imitation down under delicacies.
• Like their friends across the English Channel, it's likely that Germany's Angela Merkel could enjoy a DVD box set of her own. How about Steven Spielberg's WWII classic miniseries, Band of Brothers? The acting is superb, the visuals are stunning, and it's actually based on a true story!
• Barack Obama could even host a Band of Brothers viewing party in the White House movie theater. Hopefully he won't forget to blackberry the Evite to the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Mr. Obama could treat him to a trip to the tanning salon afterwards.
• For the Saudi head of state, we'd recommend some quality American footwear. If Barack Obama really wanted to make a good impression, he could even remove his own shoes and personally hand them over—although he ought to resist any urges to throw said shoes (that's offensive).
And for UK's Gordon Brown, we'd recommend that President Obama at least try to mend fences and make nice with a follow up gift that genuinely says “I'm sorry”.
Perhaps he could augment the Prime Minister's already abundant DVD collection with copies of Mel Gibson classics Braveheart and The Patriot (assuming these two epics weren't included in the initial batch of 25).
Note to Mr. Obama: This time, try to remember that the British use the DRM DVD region coding system. So if you're going to show bad taste, at least show some good sense.
William Warren is a Contributing Editor of ALG News Bureau.