Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tacky Gifts


adj. tack·i·er, tack·i·est Informal
1. Neglected and in a state of disrepair: a tacky old cabin in the woods.
a. Lacking style or good taste; tawdry: tacky clothes.
b. Distasteful or offensive; tasteless: a tacky remark.

Prime minister Brown and his wife came to America bearing gifts. And like good hosts, the Obamas had gifts to give in return.

Sarah Brown brought gifts selected with thought and care; she gave Michelle Obama dresses with matching necklaces for Malia and Sasha and a collection of books by British authors.

Michelle gave the Brown children models of Marine One (probably picked up at the White House gift shop!)


Obama gave the Prime Minister 25 DVDs of "classic American movies."

Brown gave Obama "a first edition of Sir Martin Gilbert’s authorized biography of Churchill, all seven volumes of it, so a bit of the Churchill touch endures in the White House on British insistence. There was a framed commissioning paper for HMS Resolute, rescued by an American whaler in 1856; part of HMS Resolute was later made into the desk presented by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880, and used by American presidents to this day."

And there was another gift for BHO: a pen holder fashioned from the timber of HMS Gannet, a sister ship of the Resolute that also served for a time on anti-slavery missions off Africa.

The Heritage Foundation offers some history of the HMS Gannet:

"But HMS Gannet was not, as a casual reader might guess, employed against the trade of slaves from Africa to the New World, and since it was built in 1878, it has nothing to do with Lincoln or slavery in the United States. It sailed the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, patrolling against Islamist slavers. In the Red Sea, the Africans it saved would have come, among other places, from Kenya. Obama has made mention of his grandfather’s antipathy to Britain, stemming from his experiences in colonial Kenya. It is quite possible that grandfather’s ancestors would, had it not been for the Royal Navy, have been carried away to slavery in Arabia."

Not tacky. Thoughtful. Ironic. Classy.

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