Barack Obama has a lot to learn.
He gives very cheesy gifts.
When Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah visited the U.S. last month, Obama presented them with a boxed set of DVDS of classic American movies. That's a crappy gift to begin with, but the fact that the DVDs were incompatible with British DVD players made the gift a complete flop.
Michelle Obama gave Mrs. Brown two cheap toy models of Marine One for her two sons.
The gifts received plenty of criticism in the British media and here at home.
After that fiasco, you'd think Obama would have learned something. You'd think he'd choose an appropriate gift to give to Queen Elizabeth and get it right this time to redeem himself.
But again, his gift sucked.
From the Telegraph:
Barack Obama met the Queen at Buckingham Palace today and gave her a gift of an iPod loaded with video footage and photographs of her 2007 United States visit to Richmond, Jamestown and Williamsburg in Virginia. In return, the Queen gave the President a silver framed signed photograph of herself and the Duke of Edinburgh - apparently a standard present for visiting dignitaries.
It is believed the Queen already has an iPod, a 6GB silver Mini version she is said to have bought in 2005 at the suggestion of Prince Andrew.
UPDATE: Pool reporter Richard Wolf of USA Today says that an Obama aide told him the President also gave the Queen a "rare songbook signed by Richard Rodgers". END UPDATE
Earlier, Mr Obama had spoken of his admiration for Her Majesty but indicated that his wife was handling the details of their royal meeting. "There's one last thing that I should mention that I love about Great Britain, and that is the Queen," he said at the end of his joint press conference with Gordon Brown.
"And so I'm very much looking forward to meeting her for the first time later this evening. And as you might imagine, Michelle has been really thinking that through -- because I think in the imagination of people throughout America, I think what the Queen stands for and her decency and her civility, what she represents, that's very important."
Mr Brown added: "Well, I know the Queen is looking forward to welcoming you and she's very much looking forward to her discussion with you."
The question: Did Obama's iPod gift make the cut?
What do you get for a woman who has everything—palaces, crown jewels, a nation at her feet? If you’re President Barack Obama, and it’s the Queen of England, a personalized iPod, of course.
The bestowing of the Royal iPod brought a cringe from one top etiquette expert, who said it confirmed that Obama hasn’t figured out presidential gift-giving. Or that they shouldn’t all come from Best Buy — Obama already took some grief for giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a boxed set of DVDs when he visited the White House.
“For me, the iPod only works if he has some catchy reason why he gave it as a gift,” said Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute. “Otherwise it feels like somebody at the White House pulled the lever and an iPod is what popped up. And if it was just pulled out of the blue, you run the risk of the ‘Oh, how nice,’ reaction from people which is the polite gloss of, ‘What on earth am I going to do with this?’ ”
The Obamas recovered a bit in Post’s eyes by also giving the Queen a rare songbook signed by Richard Rodgers. One of the Queen’s favorite musicals is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!
Post called that gift “the height of thoughtfulness.”
...The story about the gift exchange on the Telegraph newspaper site prompted hundreds of responses—with tons of Americans apologizing for the gift and expressing embarrassment and Brits seeming to take it in stride, with one writing:
“Dear 'Real Americans,'
Thanks for the apologies, but you can keep them. No reasonable person here is insulted by the gifts given to the queen - I imagine it was refreshing for her not to receive another ornamental trinket to sit in the royal garage.”
As for the Queen, she gave the Obamas a signed photo of herself and her husband in a silver frame. But she had it easier than Obama — that’s the same thing she always gives visiting dignitaries.
So because someone posts this little note on the Telegraph's website that means Obama did the right thing?
I don't think so.
Of course, people are spinning for Obama; but the bottom line is his gifts are not cool.
Why would the Queen want an iPod?
Why would Brown want DVDs that he can't even watch?
It's an embarrassment.
Here's a simple test for Obama: If you can buy it at Best Buy, then it's not a very special gift.
If he's going to continue to give stuff like iPods and DVDs, Obama should make sure to include gift receipts so the recipients can return them without too much hassle.