Friday, March 13, 2009

New Bureau Needed at State?

There's something about gifts that can well, backfire. Not the "funny strange" backfire but the "funny ha! ha!" kind that can easily become a staple for late night comedians. The good thing about that reset button gaffe was that the parties guffawed about it and they seemed like they did have have a good time. The bad thing about it is -- people, especially the Russians now have it in their memory banks of "remember when" -- as in "Remember when the Secretary of State gave Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that button with the mistranslated word for reset? Har! Har! Har!" And they have the prop to show for it in their locked glass cabinet. Furthermore, as David Smith recently wrote, Fresh Fish and Gag Gifts Go Only So Far: "The future test for Clinton will be to connect the toy "reset" button to some live wires." Live wires? It was just a gag! On the DVD gift set reportedly given to Mr. Brown, what can I say? At least Mr. Brown did not have to report it to his ethics office? Or -- it was so cheap, Mr. Brown gets to keep it? Well, I'm trying to be helpful here -- who picked out that gift, an intern with a maxed out credit card? Okay, let's be charitable and just say they are on a learning curve here. But they better learn fast ... I think the Japanese guy and Lula are both coming soon for a visit. Come to think of it -- what we need is a a new position at the State Department -- the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Gag Gifts and Foreign Gifting (GG/FG). He/She would be the subject matter expert on gifts and foreign gifting choices for all branches of the government. Wouldn't that be quite a gig? Armed with an Xtreme Geek catalog, I promised to promptly nominate myself through my back channel contacts. I mean, blogging is fun but don't you just hate it when people talk about bloggers as either kids in pjs or bored, anonymous, and pathetic folks with no real lives? So -- I'm willing to do the gag gift gig, if only to show I'm not a kid! Will work for free if there is coffee and some respectability (i.e. corner office). Not a lot of options here, people - get your act together, get a new bureau (and A/S), or get your daily dose of Comedy Central. Seriously.

4 comments:

Kelsey said...

I know that most embassies have an officer whose partial job is to figure out the logistics of gifting. I wonder why they don't have someone similar for the president!

DS said...

Actually we do. There is a protocol person at State, not sure how many is in the staff. I think this is a learning curve. And its good that its happening now and they learn from it, than for it to happen later, then there'll be no excuse.

Kelsey said...

Yeah. A gaffe this early in the game can be largely shrugged off as inexperience. A gaffe like this a year or two down the line...would not go over quite so well.

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms2.blogspot.com/2009/08/re-new-bureau-needed-at-state.html