Friday, March 6, 2009

What was he thinking?

The other day, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK gave several small, but significant gifts to President Obama as a token of the long standing friendship between the UK and the US.

Mr. Brown's gifts included a pen holder made from wood from a British ship that was used to try to shut down the Aftican slave trade in the 19th century. For a man who identifies himself as African-American, and whose wife and children are the descendants of African slaves, it must be very significant. The White House maintains that the pen holder is kept on the president's desk.

In return for this and other emotionally significant gifts that were tailored to Mr. Obama's sense of history and the significance of the relationship between our countries, Mr. Brown was presented with 25 DVD's of classic American films.

That's right, in exchange for articles of hugely symbolic significance, we gave Britain movies. Not only that, but Mr. Brown is blind in one eye and has some sight problems in the other, so movies are a less than optimal choice.

What, was Taste of Kentucky not open last weekend? Heck, he could have put together a basket with Bourbon (he is a Scot, after all), a Louisville Slugger, maybe a bottle of wine, and it wouldn't have been any less inappropriate than this. Heck, he could have thrown in a talking Billy Bass and I would not feel any less shocked.

We've been allied with Great Britain for more than a century. We've fought multiple wars with Britain on our side. When the rest of the world is thumbing our noses at us, we can count on at least getting a kind word out of the UK.

And we give their Prime Minister movies as a gift to signify what that relationship means to us.

Of course, the public in the UK is horrified with this. And I don't blame him.

What's he going to give Queen Elizabeth when he meets with her later this year? A vintage Def Leppard Union Jack t-shirt?

We have enough problems in the world without insulting our friends. The President should issue a formal apology to the UK and make an effort to do better in his relations with our allies in the future.

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