March 20, 2009

As I’ve posted on here before, the British press is very, very, very upset indeed about President Obama’s gifts to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his family. Brown gave the Obamas a basket of pure British awesomeness, while Obama apparently sent Joe Biden out to Target to pick up some DVDs for the grownups and a couple of cheap Chinese-toxic-toy Marine One helicopters for the kids.

As the Daily Mail put it:

“…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.”

The gall!

Well, it doesn’t end there. Apparently, Obama didn’t even bother to get the right kind of DVDs. From the Telegraph:

“Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.
The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words ‘wrong region’ came up on his screen. Although he mournfully had to put the popcorn away, he is unlikely to jeopardise the special relationship – or ‘special partnership’, as we are now supposed to call it – by registering a complaint.
A Downing Street spokesman said he was ‘confident’ that any gift Obama gave Brown would have been ‘well thought through,’ but referred me to the White House for assistance on the ‘technical aspects’.
A White House spokesman sniggered when I put the story to him and he was still looking into the matter when my deadline came last night.
By the way, when Obama’s unlikely gift was disclosed, a reader emailed me to ask if Clueless was among the films. Funnily enough, it was not.
Brown, on the other hand, presented a rather more thoughtful gift to the American President in the form of a penholder carved from the timbers of an anti-slavery ship. The sister ship, in fact, of the one that was broken up and turned into the desk in the Oval Office.”

The White House spokesman “sniggered.” My word!

How are we going to fix this international incident? President Obama should immediately appoint a special IT Czar, equipped with a van and a tool belt. As soon as the new appointee is approved by both houses of Congress, the specialist could then be immediately dispatched to No.10 Downing Street to rebuild the Prime Minister’s DVD player piece by piece, using the latest technology from MIT and CalTech research labs, so the PM can watch “Psycho” and “How Green Was My Valley.”

Or they could just get themselves a universal DVD player like I HAVE IN MY OWN LIVING ROOM. Either way, whichever.

At least the Republicans know how to handle international DVD diplomacy. Here’s right-wing blogger Ed Morrissey:

“People objected when Obama returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the British Embassy, which had loaned it to George Bush eight years ago. I didn’t find that surprising, especially given the history of Obama’s grandfather, or at least how Obama understands it. I’d not likely keep a bust of Oliver Cromwell in the West Wing if I were President, gift or not, for similar reasons. (I’m an admirer of Churchill, though.)

However, this seems like a rather deliberate insult, or at best diplomatic incompetence. It’s one thing to cheap out on a gift for a friend or relative at Christmas, but the British have stood by the US for many long decades, through some very dark times. Despite unpopularity at home, they remained at our side in Iraq and Afghanistan. They deserve a little more effort from this administration, and a hell of a lot more appreciation.”

Wow, I guess I didn’t fully appreciate the seriousness of this. It’s not that Obama’s just an amateurish naif in international diplomacy. It’s that he’s using Region 1 DVDs as a weapon to sabotage the “special relationship” with our closest, BFF ally. All because of something about his grandfather in the colonies. When can we begin the impeachment process?

Seriously – the DVDs were a pretty crappy gift. I’m guessing the Obama administration probably had bigger things on their minds though, like, say, the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. And two wars. And stuff like that. Probably not because Obama has a secret agenda to destroy the US-UK alliance because of his grandfather’s bad experiences with the Brits in Kenya. Call me crazy.

Maybe, then, one pissy article the day after it happened could suffice? Or are we going to relive this in a couple of weeks when the White House ships over a universal DVD player but Gordon Brown can’t shut off the Spanish dubbing and French subtitles when he pops in “The Maltese Falcon?” Really, LET IT GO.


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