It's my experience that those who vote for a politician are much more likely to 'care' about the personal touches and relationships and the gossip than those who didn't vote for that politician. I can remember how many Republicans were quite interested in Ronald and Nancy Reagan's images at home and abroad. There was a sense, after Jimmy Carter, that the Reagan's had restored a more glamorous image to the White House. Of course, Democrats made fun of Nancy's purchase of new china, among other things. Much as Republican's are now poo-pooing all the fuss over Michelle Obama's clothing.
I suspect the Obama's image consultants are probably having heated debates over many of these minor details. On the one hand, they want to dress up the first couple's image. On the other hand, they don't want to make them appear 'imperial' and risk losing support among their base. Which is probably why they've chosen these idiotic selection of gifts... such as the Queen's video-iPod. It's a way of doing a delicate balancing act.