To show his respect and kindness towards the new president, Prime Minister Gordon Brown presented President Obama with an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of the Victorian anti-slave ship HMS Gannet. Oak from the Gannet's sister ship, HMS Resolute, was carved to make a desk that has sat in the Oval Office in the White House since 1880. Brown also gave Obama a framed commission for HMS Resolute and a first edition of the seven-volume biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert. Brown and his wife also gave gifts to the Obama children giving Sasha and Malia an outfit each from Topshop and six children's books by British authors which are shortly to be published in America. What did the Obamas give in exchange? "A box set of 25 classic American films - a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks," exclaimed the Daily Mail. Mr Brown is not thought to be a film buff, and his reaction to the box set is unknown," the Daily Mail reported. "But it didn't really compare to the thoughtful presents he had brought along with him."
Check out this reaction in The Telegraph to see what the British media thinks of Obama's snub:
President Obama has been rudeness personified towards Britain this week. His handling of the visit of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to Washington was appalling. First Brown wasn't granted a press conference with flags, then one was hastily arranged in the Oval office after the Brits had to beg. Obama looked like he would rather have been anywhere else than welcoming the British leader to his office and topped it all with his choice of present (*) for the PM. A box of 25 DVDS including ET, the Wizard of Oz and Star Wars? Oh, give me strength. We do have television and DVD stores on this side of the Atlantic. Even Gordon Brown will have seen those films too often already.
This was coupled with Michelle Obama's casual choice of gifts for the Brown sons - matching models of the helicopter which ferry her husband around. While Sarah Brown had spent time choosing gifts for the Obama girls, Michelle had clearly sent an aide to the White House gift shop at the last moment.
All in all, he doesn't think much of us, as I explained in my post here earlier this week.
But what's this? Something, suddenly, seems to have made the Obama White House perk up and start to take an interest in the Brits. The Queen has invited the President to tea when he's here for the G20 in April. And he's in through the front door of Buckingham Palace faster than a Harley Davidson roaring along Route 66.
Note how the coolness of Team Obama disappears when a bit of regal glamour is introduced into the equation. He might not like the Brits, but he can recognise a global superstar when he encounters one. He wants to be associated with her. He's shameless.
(*) If Obama, or someone in his inner circle, had spent two minutes thinking about what present to get Brown then they could easily have come up with something appropriate. He likes books. He loves American history. Get him a signed first edition of a good Robert Dallek book such as the brilliant Flawed Giant on LBJ. Come to think of it, Obama should read it too, if he hasn't yet, as it reveals a great deal about how a Presidency can go so wrong.