Obama's Gift Gaffes Continue

Each year, Sidwell Friends, the tony school where the Obamas have enrolled their daughters, holds a fundraising auction.

The auctions raise big money as parents try to outdo each other both in bidding and prizes donated. This year, eyebrows have been raised — as evidenced by the news report headlined "Obamas prove stingy with school auction."

When the children of presidents attend Sidwell Friends, expectations for the auction run high. When Chelsea Clinton was a student, her father agreed to play a round of golf with the highest bidder, while Chelsea herself offered babysitting services. Chelsea continues to raise money for the auction by donating lunches and dinners for high bidders. What have the Obamas donated? Why, signed pictures of themselves, of course! The winning bidders will receive a copy of Rolling Stone signed by President Obama and an autographed copy of Michelle Obama's Vogue cover.

The "donation gap" has not gone unnoticed. "There were expectations that they might donate something more personal, like the Clintons did ... Lots of people were disappointed," said an auction source.

This isn't the first time Obama's gift-giving has come up; Obama's gift of 25 American DVDs (which won't work in the U.K.) to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the iPod, pre-loaded with Obama speeches, for Queen Elizabeth II were universally panned.

Is giving tacky gifts the biggest issue in the world? Of course not. But it is telling.

Money raised in the auction supports scholarships for low-income youth whose parents cannot afford the pricey tuition. Recently, President Obama signed into law an omnibus appropriations bill that — with the stroke of a pen — ended the DC Opportunity Scholarships that help 1,700 Washington students afford private school. Two of those who benefit from the program, Sara and James Parker, are schoolmates of the Obama daughters.

Similarly, with the stroke of a pen — autographing Rolling Stone — Obama limited the amount of money that would be raised to provide scholarships. A round of golf with Bill Clinton when he was president sold for nearly six figures. Surely a round of golf with Obama would fetch far more and help low-income, largely minority students attend Sidwell Friends.

Perhaps Obama is merely getting a jump on the tax code, since it was his proposal to limit charitable deductions — you know, the kind of deductions made when wealthy families outbid each other to play a round of golf with the president.