The Saudis Are Bad Gift-Givers, Too


We know President Obama is a bad gift-giver. We know Hugo Chavez is a bad gift-giver. And now joining them in the gift-giving Hall of Shame is the Saudi royal family, which bestowed alligator-skin briefcases filled to the brim with “expensive jewels, including rings, necklaces, gemstones and watches” upon about a dozen White House aides during Obama’s recent trip there. Thoughtful? Sure. Practical? Not at all. Because of pesky ethics laws, everyone who received these opulent tokens of friendship had to immediately turn them over to the State Department. Usually what happens next is that State would appraise the value of each jewel-stuffed alligator-skin briefcase, and their recipients would have the opportunity to purchase them back from the government — but since we’re guessing these will be worth about a billion dollars each, that’s not really a convenient option. They could also be used for an official state purpose, though a State Department official doubts one could possibly be found in this instance. So, for now, the briefcases are being held in the White House gift office, where, we imagine, they will eventually get dumped in with Saudi gifts of the past housed in a giant vault/swimming pool.

Saudi gifts break the bank [Politico]