On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith discussed President Obama’s brief meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas with former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino and former Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, wondering: "Have the critics of this photo-op made a mountain out of a molehill?"
In a prior report on the meeting, correspondent Bill Plante explained: "President Obama defends his visit with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Asked about the notion that his willingness to talk to enemies of the U.S. was a sign of weakness, the President said it was unlikely that he was endangering the strategic interests of the United States...His simple handshake with Venezuela's president was a symbolic break with the Bush administration policy of shutting out unfriendly nations." Smith repeated Obama’s defense as he later wondered if critics were making too much of the encounter.
Those who “devised” what ABC called “torture memos” and the “methods” they defined, retired ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson contended on Sunday's This Week, “should be held responsible” and so “should be held accountable in the court of law.” Donaldson allowed that “people who thought they were following the law as outlined” should not be punished, but:
The people who devised these methods and devised these memos, if, in fact, they knew that they were just trying to find cover, just trying to find a way to get around American values and American law and the American Constitution, I think they should be held responsible. I think they should be brought in and if President Obama wants to pardon them as one President pardoned a former President, then let him do so, but they should be held accountable in the court of law.
The tween girls of the Washington area have transcended differences of race, class and wealth to reach a single, resounding conclusion: They really, really, really, really want to be friends with Malia and Sasha Obama.
They lap up every shred of information about the first daughters, dream about meeting them and strategize ways to make it happen. Minivan rides and dinner table conversations are dominated by questions about the girls: What's their favorite food? What kind of dog did they get? Where can I get a coat like Malia's?
"Sometimes I go up to my room and I just think, 'I want to meet them, I want to meet them, I want to meet them,' " says a desperate Sophie Metee, a fourth-grader at Wood Acres Elementary in Bethesda.
Later we learn that fascination with the young ladies "may also have a great deal to do with President Obama's popularity in the country and the region -- he won an overwhelming majority of Washington area votes and enjoys significant approval ratings."
"At some point, I'm still trying to figure this out, we became a nation that honors failure and rewards it, instead of honoring success and rewarding it," actor John Ratzenberger told Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto on Wednesday's "Your World" program. The "Cheers" alum appeared at the Sacramento Tea Party to register his concerns about government tax and spend policies. [full video by Fox News here. Audio excerpt here.]
"I've always celebrated common sense, it's not a Democrat or a Republican issue," Ratzenberger insisted, to be concerned about the high taxes which are driving small business and the jobs they provide, to leave California.
Ratzenberger's remarks echo conservative sentiments expressed recently by his fellow "Cheers" alumnus Kelsey Grammer, who told CNSNews.com that President Obama's policies punished success while bailing out irresponsible people who took on second mortgages they could not afford:
The broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday provided prominent coverage of the “Tea Party” rallies across the nation with time for the views of participants, but they tried to discredit the protests as a front for “corporate interests” or a “fistful of rightward leaning Web sites” -- a concern for motives and hidden agendas the same programs lacked when championing the 2006 pro-illegal immigrant marches. All three also cited polls to undermine the premise the public shares the concerns on taxes and spending espoused by the “tea party” protesters.
“Cheered on by Fox News and talk radio, the hundreds of tea parties today were designed to protest the bailouts, the stimulus plan, and President Obama's budget,” Dan Harris explained on ABC before asserting: “But critics on the left say this is not a real grassroots phenomenon at all, that it's actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests.” Harris proceeded to argue that “while the Boston Tea Party in 1773 was about taxation without representation, critics point out that today's protesters did get to vote -- they just lost. What's more, polls show most Americans don't feel overtaxed.”
CBS's Dean Reynolds noted a tea party organizer “insisted these events were non-partisan,” but, Reynolds maintained as if it were an embarrassment, “a fistful of rightward leaning Web sites and commentators embraced the cause.” Reynolds stressed how “it's important to keep in mind that fresh polling indicates there is not all that much passion about high taxes in the country at large right now. Gallup this week found 61 percent of Americans see their federal income taxes as fair.” (What percent surveyed even pay income taxes?)
One hundred forty-four years after his assassination, Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear hacked out an 11-paragraph post on how "Lincoln's death had sacred significance," according to some historians and Lincoln biographers.
"Harold Holzer, co-chair of the U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, said the Good Friday assassination earned Lincoln a permanent place in American mythology," Brachear noted in her April 14 post, before quoting Holzer's argument at length.
But no Lincoln story in the mainstream media is complete without an Obama tie-in, and Brachear made sure to deliver, again quoting Holzer:
The insular world of NBC News and MSNBC. In her Tuesday NBC Nightly News story on President Barrack Obama's status of the economy speech, reporter Savannah Guthrie emphasized how “the White House billed today's speech as a 'major' one” and so it was “carried live on cable” where “analysts said it was short on rhetoric and long on policy.”
Guthrie's expert “analysts” turned out to be one analyst, her boss. In a clip lifted from MSNBC earlier in the day, NBC Nightly News viewers heard NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker effuse: “Well, there was a moment of church in that speech, but the rest of it was pure law school.”
Opting to include a photo to supplement the reporting by Michael Shear and Cecilia Kang in their April 14 front-pager "Obama Lifts Broad Set of Sanctions Against Cuba", Washington Post editors made a caption choice that served to skew the story presentation in a way favorable to those who argue for lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
"The president's new policies lift limits on Americans sending money to their relatives in struggling Cuba," reads the Post caption below a photograph by AP's Javier Galeano (shown above at right). In the photo, a man and woman are shown pushing a beat-up old car down the street.
"President Obama's nominee for health secretary received nearly three times as much political money from a controversial abortion doctor as she had told senators," the Associated Press is reporting, noting that this marks "the second time in her confirmation process" that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kansas) "had to explain a financial oversight" to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sebelius is only the latest Obama Cabinet pick to face a rocky road to confirmation, and in part over tax trouble, yet when it came to reporting the story on the eve of tax deadline day, the Washington Post opted to quietly tuck the story into the Nation Digest feature on page A4.
In addition to the $12,450 Sebelius reported last week as having received "from 1994 to 2001 from George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers," records show that Tiller also donated "at least $23,000 more from 2000 to 2002 to a political action committee that Sebelius established while insurance commissioner to raise money for fellow Democrats."
Sebelius's need to correct "three years' worth of tax returns" and to pay "more than $7,000 in back taxes to fix improper deductions" was the first "oversight" the pro-choice Kansas governor had to correct.
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. “With today's announcement,” Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, “President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual.” Kofman then declared: “It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is.”
Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged “some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel,” but she dismissed those opponents as “a dwindling number.” She emphasized the view Obama came up short: “President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.” Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: “For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.”
For the first year ever, the annual White House Easter Egg Roll tickets were dispersed via the Internet, as opposed to an in-person, first-come, first-served basis that the White House has used for years for the general public. This year the Obama White House tried out another first: setting aside a few tickets for same-sex marriage activists.
President Obama's White House saved Easter Egg Roll tickets for gay and lesbian parents, reaching out to groups that felt ostracized by previous administrations.
The White House would not say how many tickets were set aside for the group for Monday's annual celebration, only noting that it was far fewer than the large block set aside for military families and the 2,000 saved for D.C. public schools. There also is a batch for administration employees and their children.
The White House Office of Public Liaison coordinated with several groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and saved a group of tickets for those families.
Sticking up against those ol' playground bullies on the Right, CBS's Katie Couric tells conservatives in a recent blog post to " give the new kids on the block" in the Obama administration "a chance to get their learner's permits first."
Not exactly the wisest choice of words from an Obama-friendly journalist, particularly when a heavy drumbeat of criticism against him in the presidential campaign was that it unwise to trust the presidency to a man who would need "on-the-job training."
President Barack Obama was "crisp and decisive" but also lucky in his handling of the Maersk Alabama hostage crisis, exults Time magazine's Joe Klein [depicted in NewsBusters screen cap/file photo at right] in an April 13 Swampland blog post.
Klein added that had the Navy SEAL snipers failed in hitting their targets, Republicans and second-guessing journalists would probably push the Obama administration to escalate matters to tackle a non-existent pirate "threat":
But it could easily have gone wrong, through no fault of the President and the SEALs--a gust of wind, whatever...and then the Administration would have had to waste all sorts of energy on damage control, fending off the second-guessers--Republicans and, all too often, people like me--and perhaps overreacting to the pirate "threat" as a result. Presidencies are, sadly, built or crippled on such quirks of fate.
NPR's Nina Totenberg must live in a world of Obama fanatics. But she works for NPR, so that's tautological. Weeks after she relayed how “a friend of mine said, 'oh my God, we have a President again!,'” this weekend she excitedly recounted how, following President Barack Obama's trip to Europe, she “heard...all over Washington” people saying “'I'm going to go on YouTube and watch the President's speech because I heard it was so good.'” She hailed that as “just an amazing thing.”
On Inside Washington, a weekly show produced at DC's ABC affiliate and aired on it and its local all-news cable channel, Totenberg rejected the notion Obama's speeches and remarks in any way celebrated America's decline. Without specifying which speech she was talking about, but most likely Obama's address in Prague or before Turkey's parliament, Totenberg asserted:
He spoke of the modern realities and the modern difficulties that we've had in our relations with other countries. How many times have you heard people say “I'm going to go on YouTube and watch the President's speech because I heard it was so good”? And I heard that all over Washington this week. And that is just an amazing thing.
Clinton’s White House aides complained about all the British press clips the "Clinton haters" used to start up negative coverage in the United States. Here’s one for the Barry Era: From the London Times comes an embarrassing report on a Kenyan sibling of Barack Obama, one who couldn’t land in London en route to his half-brother’s inauguration:
BARACK OBAMA’s half-brother has been refused entry to Britain after reportedly being accused of an attempted sex attack on a 13-year-old girl on his last visit.
Samson Obama, who runs a mobile phone shop in Nairobi in Kenya, was on his way to the president’s inauguration in January when he tried to stop over in Britain to visit relatives. But he was turned away by immigration officers who declined to issue a visa on the grounds of deception.
Biometric tests carried out at East Midlands airport showed that he was linked to the attack on a girl in Berkshire last November but never charged, according to a report last night. Further checks identified Samson as the half-brother of President Obama, leading to a hurried call to the White House.
MSNBC anchor Peter Alexander was more interested Friday afternoon in a Karl Rove v Joe Biden cat fight than in the accuracy of Biden's claim which prompted Rove's rebuke of him for telling a “lie” -- which led guest Ari Fleischer to scold the media for not checking into Biden's allegation. Indeed, MSNBC framed the segment around Rove's words, “Rove: Biden Is a Liar.” When Alexander asked if it is “appropriate for Karl Rove” to call a Vice President “a liar?”, Fleischer shot back: “Well, for heaven's sake, that's just about the only word Democrats wanted to use when they were talking about George W. Bush.”
Alexander began the segment, in the 3 PM EDT hour, playing the self-serving anecdote told by Biden in an interview earlier this week for CNN's The Situation about how, in an Oval Office meeting on an unidentified date, when President Bush told him “I'm a leader,” Biden had retorted: “Mr. President, turn around, look behind you, no one's following.” Alexander wanted to know who would benefit politically -- “Are these fights good for the GOP or for the Obama administration?” -- prompting Fleischer to wonder:
My question is, where is the press in all of this? If Dick Cheney had said that he had a private meeting with Bill Clinton and he in that meeting told Bill Clinton that Bill Clinton was wrong, I think all the press would have said to Cheney, “When did you do it? Back it up. Where are the dates?” There's no scrutiny here for Joe Biden....
A search of Nexis between April 7 -- the day when pirates seized the U.S.-registered and American-crewed Maersk Alabama -- and today, April 10, shows that both the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times failed to even mention President Barack Obama in their stories on the ongoing hostage situation. The New York Times did, once, in a page A6 April 9 story by Mark Mazetti and Sharon Otterman, but it came 15 paragraphs into the 26-paragraph story and served to explain Obama's absence in the ongoing U.S. response:
At the White House, military and national security officials tracked the developments from the Situation Room, and they provided several briefings to President Obama and other administration officials throughout the day.
Mr. Obama first learned of the hijacking early on Wednesday morning after he returned to the White House from his overseas trip, and he later convened an interagency group on maritime safety, aides said. The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said, ''Our top priority is the personal safety of the crew members on board.''
Basically, the nation's top three newspapers are letting President Obama off the hook from any scrutiny regarding his involvement or lack thereof in the ongoing hostage situation.
After pounding away at Attorney General Eric Holder over enacting more gun control, as Katie Couric fretted that “Democrats on Capitol Hill are getting increasingly chummy with the NRA,” Couric raised “the issue of the treatment of some of the detainees” at Guantanamo and prompted Holder to denounce former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In the taped interview aired on Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Couric cited “alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's been reported that he was water-boarded. You have come out publicly and said water-boarding is torture. So how would that stand up in civilian court?” She also highlighted how “Holder addressed recent criticism” by Cheney, “who said the Obama administration was making choices that will raise the risk of another terrorist attack.” Couric pressed: “Are you implicitly saying that Dick Cheney was inappropriate and off base?”
Couric was most-obsessed with guns, hitting Holder repeatedly from the left:
Unlike recent Presidents, Canellos contended in his weekly “National Perspectives” column in the Globe's news pages, “Obama, so far, seems to occupy a place in the popular culture beyond humor. Ridicule doesn't touch him. His personality defies easy categorization.” Even the “few running gags to emerge from the Obama administration -- aides not paying their taxes, Treasury officials rewarding fat-cats” -- rebounds to Obama's benefit, Canellos argued, as he effused: “The only one that pertains to the President himself is the straight-faced devotion he inspires. Obama may not actually be perfect, but so many poor souls out there think he is.”
Assessing President Barrack Obama's overseas trip, ABC's George Stephanopoulos proposed it was “a real test for the President” and, no surprise, decided “he passed it pretty easily” since “he was confident, he had a sense of command in his personal and his public diplomacy, forged strong relationships with his European counterparts...” Furthermore, Stephanopoulos admired Obama's “strong” unannounced visit to troops in Iraq, touting how the President “capped off” his travels “with this critical visit to the troops. When you've got American troops fighting on two fronts, you have to end that visit with a strong visit with the troops, and he did.”
Asked by anchor Charles Gibson to list some minuses, Stephanopoulos acknowledged “good feelings with your allies don't guarantee agreement,” citing Obama's inability to secure help in Afghanistan and with North Korea, but the host of ABC's This Week wrapped up with how the White House is pleased with the trip -- as if it were possible they wouldn't be: “They feel this trip went exactly as they planned. They couldn't be happier. Now they're going to come back home and focus again on the economy.”
Hard to imagine how they could be any happier with the media's reverential coverage.
Giving a warm wind-up to President Barrack Obama's overseas trip as it comes to an end in Istanbul, NBC's Chuck Todd declared Monday that the decision to make Turkey the last stop “could prove to be one of the shrewder early moves in this young presidency.”
On CBS, anchor Katie Couric highlighted how a new CBS News/New York Times poll pegged Obama's approval at 66 percent, the highest ever in that survey the CBSNews.com online posting touted: “Obama Approval Hits New High -- 66%.” Couric also pointed out how Obama has made Americans feel better with the “wrong direction” measure for the nation falling from 89, under Bush, to 53 percent: “More than half still say we're heading the wrong way, but that's a dramatic 36-point improvement from the waning days of the Bush administration.”
Reporter Chip Reid showcased more positive poll results for Obama's trip, as “67 percent of Americans believe the President will return to the U.S. with the respect of world leaders.”
In a q and a with George Stephanopoulos on Saturday's World News, ABC anchor David Muir decided to sum up President Barack Obama's week in Europe by displaying a picture of jovial Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama during the G-20 group photo session, an image Muir contended showed how “other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.”
Muir cued up Stephanopoulos: “Have you seen much of this in recent history?” Stephanopoulos put style over substance as he declared “the President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe.” Though he acknowledged that “on the substance the President hasn't gotten all he wanted either at the G-20 or at this NATO summit,” the host of ABC's This Week decided “he's done a good job of managing expectations.” As Stephanopoulos demonstrated, Obama has certainly met and exceeded media expectations.
The Obama White House is serving as a convenient new employer for members of the media as news outlets downsize, but would they have felt so comfortable coming aboard a GOP President's staff? The latest hires: Three news photographers -- from Time magazine, Cox Newspapers and U.S. News & World Report magazine -- are joining the team of photographers snapping pictures at events and meetings in and around the White House complex.
The chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, “announced the hires to PDN,” DCRTV.com reported Thursday in picking up the item from the week before on the Photo District News site. Souza had already tapped photographers from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and the Associated Press.
Reacting with indignation to David Frum's assessment that President Barack Obama was a “failure” at the G-20 summit because European leaders “rebuffed” his quest to get them to follow his lead in enacting massive deficit spending, an aghast ABC News veteran Sam Donaldson sputtered that the change in “tone” from former President Bush was more important than substance:
The last President we had that went to Europe, I mean no one wanted to see him. There was great hostility. This President's changed the tone. Just changing the tone was a great plus for the United States.
On Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, Donaldson conceded Obama “was rebuffed when it came to the great stimulus, yes Germany and France said you can't print Euros like we're printing dollars” but, nonetheless, he declared: “This was the best outcome you could hope for.”
Friday’s CBS Early Show continued its fawning coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama in Europe as co-host Harry Smith gushed over the First Lady: "I mean, there's a kind of just raw realness about her. That session with the schoolgirls yesterday...People were in tears." Smith made the comment while talking to executive editor of thedailybeast.com, Tina Brown, who had her own words of praise: "Michelle is so authentic, and so real, and so today, and so, you know, J. Crew, and the whole price point thing and not designer clothes..With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there's a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. But there's also -- I mean she's almost like overtaking Oprah, I think, as the kind of inspirational 'it' girl at this point." [audio available here]
Later, Smith dismissed criticism that Michelle Obama had broken protocol when meeting Queen Elizabeth: "This whole touching of the Queen and everything else, in the end, the Queen says, 'let's please stay in touch.' Whatever affront, or perceived affront, was completely trumped by the fact that those two people charmed the Queen's socks off." Brown agreed: "They completely charmed them. And the Queen wouldn't have taken any offense at that...she's also, I think, getting a kind of almost Princess Di-like empathy going at this point. You know, when she went to that school yesterday and you saw this tall figure bending down to embrace these kids wearing those pearls, it was like, ‘oh, my God, it’s Di time all over again.’"
We've seen this before, self-proclaimed "objective" journalists getting so swept up in infatuation with Barack Obama that they literally applaud his public speeches:
The line to get in stretched about 500 feet down a long hallway at the convention center hosting the conference and the 800 seats were all full inside, prompting scores of reporters to line the walls.
When Obama arrived, dozens of the print reporters in the audience stood to take their own keepsake photographs on camera phones and BlackBerrys behind the news photographers thronging the entire width of the vast stage.
When the president departed after nearly an hour, dozens more reporters offered him applause — something one veteran reporter who has covered the globe for decades said he could not recall seeing except for in authoritarian nations.
“People are looking for something to criticize.” Yes, Barbara they are. And you were once among them.
Barbara Walters took exception to complaints from some that the Obamas made a royal mess of British protocol when meeting the queen of England. However, just over a year ago, Walters herself sniffed at the Bush White House for sending her a Christmas card containing [gasp!] “Scripture.”
On the April 2 episode of “The View,” the co-hosts discussed the murmurings that the president and first lady broke protocol when meeting the queen of England. Walters got visibly upset, waving her hands and speaking in a high, mocking tone saying, “And then people criticize because you know people are looking for something to criticize,” she said. “It makes me unhappy we are always looking for something to criticize, ‘Why did she put her arm around the queen?’.”
The broadcast networks continued their infatuation Thursday night with Michelle Obama as ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased: “Center stage. With substance and style, the First Lady steps onto the world stage, becoming something of a mega-star.” He soon equated her popularity with Jacqueline Kennedy, the last First Lady to so enchant the press. On NBC, Dawna Friesen trumpeted how “she has dazzled Britain with her style and her substance. From the palace to the streets, she has taken London town.” Highlighting the First Lady's appearance before a largely-minority group of school girls, Friesen hailed: “To such a diversity of girls from such an inspirational woman, the message couldn't have been more powerful.”
Two noteworthy quotes from the CBS Evening News:
> In a wrap-up piece on the G-20 summit, anchor Katie Couric decided it was relevant to stress: “The people of London treated the Obamas like rock stars, the kind of reception an American President has not received in some time.”
> CBS reporter Chip Reid, over video of many waving raised hands from journalists trying to catch Obama's attention, pointed out how excited Obama made the press corps during his news conference: “The President continued his charm offensive with the nearly two thousand members of the international press corps who literally begged to ask questions.”
At the top of the 3:00PM EST hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Norah O’Donnell and Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei were practically tripping over themselves declaring Barack Obama the "rock star" of Europe in the wake of the G-20 summit. O’Donnell began by asking: "Can we gauge this meeting as a success?" VandeHei replied: "I think early indications are it probably was a big success...I think they'll hail that as a big success. I think the fact that he's just been greeted like such a hero overseas...and I think that that press conference will probably get a pretty good reception." O’Donnell agreed: "You're right, it was sort of like rock star treatment...I mean, you could even see it from some of the international press there at that press conference that we just watched for the past hour...Of course, there was the Obama-mania out there..."
Later, O’Donnell compared Obama to Bush: "...there's also a turning point in terms of a break with this administration and the last administration. And Bush foreign policy. The President, today, talked about the old ways of Washington...How much of this was a clean break with the Bush Administration and that type of foreign policy?" VandeHei then won the contest over who could praise Obama more: "Oh, I think that the campaign through now, it's all been a clean break... Norah, as you well know, Obama could have gone and sat in his hotel room and listened to his ipod and he still would have been greeted with more cheer in Europe than President Bush would. So that's not a hard hurdle to clear. Because Bush was so unpopular overseas and Obama is a rock star overseas, in some places even more so than here. So that part was an easy slam dunk for him."
Thursday’s CBS Early Show offered non-stop gushing over Barack and Michelle Obama in Britain as co-host Julie Chen spoke with royal watcher Ingrid Seward: "Well, what is the buzz so far about Michelle Obama, and is she overshadowing her husband's presence over there?" Seward replied: "No, she's not overshadowing her husband. I think we all find him very charismatic, very handsome, and almost with the responsibility of being a savior on his shoulders...And people are excited to see him, very excited to see him." Chen added: "As they should be."
Later, Chen asked about the Obamas’ gift to Queen Elizabeth, an ipod loaded with show tunes: "Now, what are people saying about the First Lady and President Obama's gift of an ipod to the Queen?" Seward declared: "Actually, an ipod is a perfect gift for the Queen because in the cellars of Buckingham Palace, she has so many unwanted gifts, sort of trophies and unattractive pieces of jewelry. I mean, she couldn't be more thrilled with something useful like an ipod."