Michelle Obama’s Gibson guitar gift

posted at 5:25 pm on August 29, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Last week’s DOJ raid on two Gibson Guitar facilities in Tennessee has generated justifiable anger. The Justice Department confiscated $1 million worth of Gibson property (pallets of wood, electronic files, guitars and the like), but failed to inform the company why. The raid represents a repeat performance, too: Federal regulators pulled the same stunt on the storied manufacturer in 2009.

Presumably, the DOJ, if it ever bothers to clarify, will say Gibson is guilty of importing wood from endangered trees to manufacture its legendary guitars — prohibited under the Lacey Act, legislation that makes it “illegal to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant, with some limited exceptions, taken or traded in violation of the laws of the U.S., a U.S. State, or relevant foreign law.”

But the Justice Department’s silence reflects the reality that Gibson likely hasn’t broken any American laws — at most, they might have failed to meet “every regulatory jot and tittle” of the country from which the wood was imported (in the case of the most recent raid, India).

But if it turns out that the Indian rosewood in question is illegal contraband in the eyes of Obama’s DOJ, then Michelle Obama is just as guilty of trafficking in it as Gibson. In 2009, Michelle Obama gave Carla Bruni-Sarkozy a Gibson guitar with a fretboard made of the material:

Mrs. Obama presented Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy with the Gibson guitar on Saturday before the first ladies visited the Cathedral de Norte Dame de Strasbourg, along with the rest of the NATO Summit spouses. The Gibson Hummingbird apparently hit the right chord with Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy, as the Mrs. Obama’s office reported that the two women really hit it off and enjoyed a private lunch together that lasted for more than one hour.

Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy is a former model, and is also a singer/songwriter. She has released three albums, the last of which, As If Nothing Happened, was released in July 2008. She plays acoustic guitar on many of her songs.

According to a list of the gift’s specs at Gibson.com, the fretboard was made from a “choice piece of Indian rosewood.”

Does someone think she’s above the law? Looks like it. But, then, this isn’t the first evidence we have that Michelle thinks she’s the queen.

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