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?