On Wednesday, the State Department released its 2017 list of gifts given to federal employees by foreign government sources. The results are numerous, spectacular, and often pens.
It was quickly pointed out that many of the gifts were from the government of Saudi Arabia, which has a very close relationship with Trump and his administration—notably, haunted rubber glove Jared Kushner. This may be in the interest of two wealthy, corrupt governments, but looks bad (and is actually horrific) considering, among other things, that the Saudi government is suspected of being involved in, if not ordering, the killing of journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul this past October. Anyway, King Salman reportedly gave Donald Trump a necklace.
To summarize the lengthy description of said necklace, it is a:
Pendant necklace, consisting of 14-point white/green enameled star, (“750" denoting 18K gold), dangling beneath gold-plated palm tree and crossed sabers, joined to 21 linked panels of gold-plated openwork displaying panels of crossed sabers on foliate arabesques, alternating with panels of foliate arabesques further decorated with four emeralds or rubies each, in green leatherette presentation box.
It’s a bold design and I hope that if Trump ever puts it on he will immediately fall over.
Angela Merkel gave Trump paper and pen that somehow is valued at $1,765.
I’ve never actually read one of these reports on foreign gifts before, and was surprised that in just about every case (if not all, my eyes unglued from the screen and then from their sockets after so much scrolling), the justification given for why the gift wasn’t returned is “non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government.” Which is… neither a reason nor a plausible human emotion. This would suggest that we give gifts to begin a process of banishing embarrassment contained in the interaction itself. I mean, you’ve got to be kind of an asshole to think this way, right? Like, when did it become polite and not obscene to accept ropes of gems from foreign leaders and dignitaries that will ultimately be used as plungers for your golden toilets? I don’t know, the values seem off here.