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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Beware of Presidents Bearing Gifts

LONDON (API)—President Barack Obama, attending the G-20 summit, today presented Queen Elizabeth with a $250 gift certificate to Target stores as an “expression of American solidarity” with Great Britain.

At the same time, the president, responding to the uproar created by his chintzy gift of a bunch of old movie DVDs to British Prime Minister Brown weeks ago, sought to smooth things over by presenting him a with dozen White Castle Sliders. Brown cordially received the gift of Krystal’s miniature square hamburgers, wrapped in a tasteful paper sack.

However, a source familiar with the situation said the prime minister planned to “regift that crap” to the pet dogs at Number 10 Downing Street.

“We had planned to give the Queen an iPod, loaded with pictures of her last visit to America,” First Lady Michelle Obama later cheerfully explained to reporters. “But, we thought Her Majesty might already have one—you know she’s the queen and all that—so we just figured that if she did, she could use the certificate for whatever she wanted. Besides,” Mrs. Obama added, “we had already given recordings to the prime minister, and if we did the same for the Queen, some people might think we totally lack imagination in the gift-giving department.”

As it did after the DVD controversy, the British press was furious over the perceived slight to the Queen and regarded the hamburgers as only deepening what it called it the worst crisis since the War of 1812 between the two previously inseparable allies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised intensified negotiations to restore normalcy. “We need to address the underlying causes of the problem that has festered over the past eight years of failed diplomacy,” said.

Clinton ignored media questions about whether a present she had earlier presented to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov bearing an incorrect translation that implied hostility rather than peacemaking was symptomatic of Obama’s own failed diplomacy.

In reaction, the New York Times opined editorially that the gift-giving brouhaha was a “tempest in a teapot,” a reference to the English taste for the beverage. Said the editorial: “We believe other overriding issues at the summit deserve greater coverage and more in-depth analysis, which is why we have assigned our best writers to report on Mrs. Obama’s outfits.

Congressional Republicans, meeting in caucus, could not agree about what to say.

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