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Michelle Obama's gift to lure G-20 spouses to Pittsburgh

September 24, 2009 |  3:57 pm

Michelle Obama's china gift for G20 spouses in Pittsburgh

What if you gave a party in Pittsburgh, and no one came? (Because, well, it's Pittsburgh.)

That wouldn't look good for President Barack Obama, hosting a major foreign summit, the G-20, there this week.

So how about an enticement, like a free gift? It works on late-night TV. And that's traditional anyway for the host/hostess of these gatherings of elite sophisticated international folks, with all their secure vehicles idling outside while the big shots go indoors away from the tear gas to discuss once again improving the environment. Also our finances.

As comedian Jimmy Fallon will say in his late-night monologue tonight, the main topic of discussion among the foreign leaders is, Why Pittsburgh?

The Obama administration learned a lesson earlier this year during Giftgate, when it presented British Prime Minister Gordon Brown with a toy helicopter and a set of classic American movie DVDs in a format that won't work in Britain. Thanks for stopping by.

Handing out Pittsburgh Terrible Towels would require knowledge of American sports or, worse, Pittsburgh teams, and that would be, well, terrible.

So First Lady Michelle Obama settled on giving some china to the spouses. Here's how the White House describes the china:

A one-of-a-kind porcelain tea set, White House honey and a honey vase designed exclusively for the occasion of the Pittsburgh Summit 2009. The platinum and purple porcelain design of the teacups is classic and contemporary, and inspired by the gold and purple White House china that President and Mrs. Lincoln used in 1861.

The use of platinum on the saucer symbolizes Pittsburgh’s steel industry roots; the use of purple is the color of the state flower of Illinois, the purple violet, home states of both Presidents Lincoln and Obama. The porcelain is one of a kind and made by a century-old family business in Illinois.

A rose in the bottom of the teacup represents both the official flower of the United States and the American beauty rose, the official flower of Washington. There is a delicate three-flower bouquet that sits in the well of the saucer. It consists of the purple violet, the state flower of Illinois; the mountain laurel, the state flower of Pennsylvania; and a rose, the national flower.

The White House honey produced for this occasion came from the First Beehive, located on White House property near the First Lady’s White House Kitchen Garden.

Also, there's a dinner at John Kerry's wife's farm, with all the Heinz ketchup you can eat.

So would that be sufficient to get you to Pittsburgh?

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: White House
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