20 Mar 2009

Obama and Brown's gifts have different fates

ReutersWASHINGTON DC, USA – The Obama administration is starting to get a bit of a reputation for incompetence. Not what we expected after such a seamless election campaign, but now they have got into power these guys keep making silly mistakes. The latest revelation about their bungling is particularly hilarious.

When Gordon Brown visited the White House a couple of weeks ago the mismatch between the gifts the two leaders exchanged seemed to reflect how they felt about each other.

Brown brought with him a specially carved pen holder made from the timbers of a British anti-slave ship – the sister ship to the one which provided the wood for the desk in the Oval Office. A very thoughtful, sincere and unique gift.

And one which we know does sit on Obama’s desk. When my colleagues Chris Shlemon and Dai Baker were in the Oval Office collecting White House News Photographers Awards, they saw it there.

But what did Obama give Brown? A box set of 25 Hollywood DVDs. It seemed like a slap in the face at the time but Brown put a brave face on it, claiming he was looking forward to watching Psycho.

But he won’t be able to. We now find out that all the DVDs are set to play only in North American or “region one” DVD players. And Brown does not possess a multi-region player. So his present is now useless as well as a little insulting.

Just try to imagine what we would be saying if George W Bush gave such a parochial, technologically incompetent and insensitive gift?