Not All Bush Gifts Are Presidential

Bush has received some nice gifts from other heads of state, but what's up with the shoeshine kit?


By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

When the National Archives conducts a show-and-tell tomorrow of gifts that the first family has received from heads of state and others, it will include most of the nice and expensive items the Bushes plan to put in their new presidential library at Dallas's Southern Methodist University. But there are loads of others that the Bushes don't want but couldn't return because nonacceptance would have caused a international incident. Well, now we can tell you what's on that list, thanks to the State Department's Office of the Chief of Protocol.

How about a $42 pair of opossum leather gloves from Helen Clark, New Zealand's prime minister? Or a white traditional Afghan pantsuit, worth a whopping $135, from President Hamid Karzai? Then there are the "elastic sided" boots complete with a $40 shoeshine kit from Australia. No wonder the State Department puts this note after each gift under the "Circumstances justifying acceptance" category: "Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government." Some of the gifts are pricey, like the $6,000 Baccarat crystal bowl to the first lady from French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Many are edibles that the Secret Service seized. And some gifts come from people we wouldn't expect, like the $750 silver and gold Tibetan butter lamp from the Dalai Lama. And were the givers sending a signal to Bush by giving him these CDs: Jazz for Quiet Moments; Born to Survive: The Best of Troy Cassar-Daley; and Spirit of the Bush?

Finally, what was the president of Vietnam thinking, giving the president an electric harp and speakerphone, worth $4,500?