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President Bush Chooses Sides in the “War on Christmas”

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And here, all this time, I thought that the “War on Christmas” that so many members of the Religious Right warned about was just knee-jerk paranoia.

Well, I’m convinced today, with the Washington Post’s report that George W. Bush and family have enlisted in the anti-Christmas army. That’s right, Ladies and Gentlemen: the President’s official White House Christmas card offers “Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season.”

Gasp! Tell me it’s not true!

But it is, and many of his card recipients are seriously pissed. Joseph Farah, editor of WorldNetDaily, says that “Bush claims to be a born-again Christian, but he doesn’t act like one. I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it.”

“This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture.” This from William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

“They’d better address this, because they’re no better than the retailers who have lost the will to say ‘Merry Christmas,'” he added.

Defending the card was Mrs. Bush’s press secretary, Susan Whitson. “Certainly President and Mrs. Bush, because of their faith, celebrate Christmas,” she said. “Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths.”

Does that satisfy the angry pro-Christmas forces? Indeed it does not. “Ninety-six percent of Americans celebrate Christmas,” says Donohue. “Spare me the diversity lecture.”

I, however, am confused. President Bush sends these cards to 1.4 million of his political allies. This includes, necessarily, RNC chair Ken Mehlman, who is Jewish. It would seem to be rather useless to wish Mehlman a Merry Christmas — not to mention meaningless. There are many other high-profile Jewish Bush-supporters, including pundits like Ben Stein, Mark Levin, and David Horowitz; Matthew Brooks, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the other members of the RJC; and, of course, Eric Canter, R-VA, the Chief Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives.

These are all people, incidentally, who took Howard Dean to task for calling the GOP “pretty much a white Christian party.” Are they now expected to simply be lumped in with those who do fit the description?

There are also, believe it or not, Muslims in America who support the president. I know some of them. I have also met at least one Buddhist who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. I’m sure that the President would like them to enjoy the holidays they celebrate this season as well.

Unless, of course, they deserve no consideration because they’re not part of the 96 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas (despite the fact that only 80 percent of Americans identify as Christians).

I’m not sure what those who are angry at this card expect the White House to do in rectifying it. Make up specific lists of who should get Christmas cards, who should get Hanukkah cards, who should get Ramadan cards, Tet cards, and plain ol’ winter cards? Having sent out 1.4 million cards, the White House would almost certainly have to hire dedicated staff just to take care of these lists, which would go on the taxpayers’ payroll. This would make people angry, too.

Should he send out Christmas cards to everyone, regardless of whether they celebrate Christmas? That seems a tad inconsiderate. “I know you don’t celebrate this holiday, but have a good celebration of it anyway.” If you want to include non-Christmas people in generating public support for your agenda, this is not the way to do it.

Should he play it safe by not sending out holiday cards at all? Not likely. It’s a simple gesture of goodwill that makes a whole lot of difference to people, makes them feel like you care about your friends and don’t forget them even when you’re not in close contact. This is why politicians do it–it’s why I receive Christmas cards from city councilmen that I supported in 2002 and haven’t spoken to since.

Face it, folks–in a country where diversity still exists, no matter how small the pockets, “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” or other catch-all slogans are the only real option for an American politician. And this is not the first time Bush has sent these “generic” greetings out: in fact, he’s done so every year since he took the oath of office. This year seems to be rankling the religious right because they feel strongly that THEY won him re-election.

Before mourning the fact that Bush has been a turncoat to the ranks of the evil ACLU, liberals, and secular humanists in the probably-nonexistent “War On Christmas,” stop and ask yourself one question. What, seriously, is the harm in saying “Happy Holidays?” How does it serve to undermine or destroy Christmas? What is it about that greeting that makes it, as William Donohue says, part of “the worst elements in our culture?” What makes it a bad element at all?

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About Michael J. West

  • I really don’t get why this is important. I am not offended when someone wishes me, say, a happy Hanukkah. I am glad there is diversity in the world and I think we should encourage that, not look for some empty, stale middle ground.

    I don’t know. Maybe other people get offended more easily than I do.

  • Nancy

    Conservative christians throw a fit when ANYTHING doesn’t fit their carefully tailored vision of How Things Should Be according to their lights. So what? If it isn’t the christmas cards, it would be something else. They’re never happy unless they have something to bitch about.

  • zingzing

    did you make up those quotes at the beginning? it sounds like bush sent out a card with a picture of his presidential self stuffing it up the devil’s goat ass. it was one of those moving cards… you know, the ones you have to move back and forth… and the picture moves and changes and thrusts! and thrusts and thrusts! and pops out! put it back in… do it slowly… aaaahhh.

  • zingzing

    reality used to be a friend of mine… sorry… that just got worse and worse. please excuse me. maybe delete it? hmm? nah… leave it… i think it’s pretty.

  • Nope. The quotes came from the Post article.

  • Nancy

    Actually, I thought the card was really lovely: it’s a gorgeous from-the-side view watercolor of the South Front of the WH in the snow, w/2 small dogs (Barney & friend?) in the foreground). Very, very tasteful & nice. I liked it. Inside, all it had was the presidential seal in raised figures, and on the facing page, the “Best Wishes” greeting. Proper, dignified, and neutral, as befits a card going to people of all faiths from the national house.

  • Leslie

    Does anyone in our present government remember Pearl Harbor? The day that would go down as a day of infamy? How can Bush keep telling us about his Christmas parties. We have men dying today in another war. The White House is sick sick sick.

  • unknown

    f*** all yall if yall if you dout him i dont see you getting off your fat ass b****

  • unknown

    if BUSH wasent our presdent then we would be someones b****

  • Indeed, the religious right did win Mr. Bush’s re-election (4 million of them who did not vote in 2000 because they felt Mr. Bush’s position regarding abortion was rather ambiguous went to the polls in 2004 to vote against the recognition of same-sex marriage and Mr. Bush won by approximately 4 million votes), but that doesn’t mean that he owes them any special consideration.

    Every election, the religious right folks are courted by the GOP, which romances them with the same promises and then casts them aside (again) once all the votes have been counted in their favor. You’d think that the religious right people would’ve blown wise to this scam by now.

  • I haven’t followed any of this conversation, but I caught comment #11.

    Due to high turnout, *every* category of voter voted for Bush in 2004 in both greater numbers and higher percentages than for Bush in 2000, with two exceptions: postgraduates (while higher numbers of postgraduates voted for Bush, the percentage remained the same, at 44%) and those who specified “Religion: Other,” where the percentage dropped by 5%.

    Even those who declared themselves as “Religion: None” voted for Bush in higher percentage (31% in 2004 compared to 30% in 2000).

  • By the way, the exit poll numbers are still available at CNN.