Obama wanted Jefferson artifact for Clinton


Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of Jefferson. (Anonymous)

We hear that a White House staffer had been making inquiries on the president’s behalf, trying to track down an artifact — like a pen or other classy objet — once owned by Thomas Jefferson, which Obama planned to present to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a thank-you gift for her service.

According to one antiquities dealer who was enlisted in the hunt, the president thought that Clinton would find particular meaning in something from Jefferson, who was not only the third president, but the country’s first secretary of state.

No word on what gift Obama finally settled on. Perhaps he did come up with the right Jeffersonian relic — though the White House flack we asked professed not to know.

No matter the gift, it’s the thought that counts, right? And the president’s clearly on the right track there — it looks like he might be taking a page from Brown’s gift-giving handbook, in which history and symbolism make for thoughtful gestures.

While Obama gave the prime minister copies of movies like “The Wizard of Oz,” the prime minister offered Obama the framed commissioning papers for the HMS Resolute, the source of the oak used for the Oval Office’s desk, as well as a pen holder carved from the timber of the anti-slavery British warship the HMS Gannet.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

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