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Obamas’ Christmas card gets thumbs down over cranberries and trifle

on 18 Comments
Obama Christmas card
The Obamas’ Christmas card

I had Christmas dinner at the home of an Obama donor, and people passed around the Christmas card from the White House, and it got a lot of thumbs down. (I had my thumb up but changed my mind after I saw which way the wind was going, 5-2, with the only other Yes vote being the donor).

The critiques were as follows:

–It’s tricky. People thought at first it was a real photograph of Bo, then they realized that it was manipulated (by an Iowa artist, it turns out, putting the scarf on the dog). They thought it was a real snowstorm, then they thought, there hasn’t been snow like that at the White House in years. (It turns out the picture is based on a real image of Bo frolicking in the snow a couple years back).

–It’s stylized and impersonal. Obama just won a reelection and he’s presumably happy about it. There’s nothing personal about this card, except signatures on the inside.

–Kitschy style. “You can see the hand of an art director on the photo. Cheesy.”

–Shows Obama’s weaknesses. “I find it weird. Its meaning is completely hidden, and that’s like Obama. And it refuses to connect to people. Again, like Obama,” said one critic.

I chalk the criticism up to dislike for Obama. These people all voted for Obama but they don’t really like him, find him inaccessible and cold.

P.S. I see now that there is a tradition of stylized White House Christmas cards featuring dogs.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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18 Responses

  1. LanceThruster on December 26, 2012, 2:19 pm

    Xmas as a holday should be just like Halloween — i.e. participation *completely* voluntary and at whatever level of observance (from “none” to “knock yourself out”) you choose. And even then, geared mostly to the kids.

    I opted out of the “Giftmas” aspects of Xmas long ago. The best gifts for me (giving and receiving) have been Xmas tchotchkes. That way, if someone takes offense at the trivial nature of it, they’re not really about the true spirit of Xmas anyway, so effum. I love trotting out the little holiday decorations freiends have given me over the years (plus you can plan ahead and clean up with the after Xmas sales – I’ve surprised many people never expecting any gifts in just this way).

    I like the Prez’s card…but then one of my own favorites was one a friend gave me with “Bah Humbug” written in elaborate holiday script on the inside. Plus, there’s the perennial favorite (that I got again this year which always brings a big smile) —

    Money’s tight, Times are hard, Here’s your f#cking Christmas card!

    — scribbled on a piece of paper folded into a card (for effect it was actually on a nice cardstock).\

    Merry Giftmas, Everyone! (The sect that celebrates Xmas in early January got it right because they get everything on post-holiday season sale).

    • piotr on December 28, 2012, 3:32 am

      This is not a “sect” by all Orthodox churches. And of course they celebrate on December 25, Julian calendar. This is why October Revolution was in November etc.

  2. David Doppler on December 26, 2012, 3:22 pm

    “If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog.” Harry Truman,

    Possible Obama message:

    “Here’s my only friend, (my Avatar?) thoroughly enjoying his stay in the White House and around its grounds, despite all the snow and cold winter in DC, literal and figurative.”

  3. MLE on December 26, 2012, 4:30 pm

    What’s wrong with it? I like Bo, he’s a very pretty dog and as a pet owner I like to dote on my cat, if I sent holiday cards, it would include my cat in them. George bush also doted on his yorkies, and the clintons had socks the cat. The dog is an easy way of feeling like you have access to the family while keeping their daughters out of the limelight. Dogs aren’t affected by negative press.

    It’s very secular, focusing on winter rather than christmas. The scarf is silly but who cares.

    The message is clear- Happy Holidays in the most inclusive terms from the Obamas. Here’s a cute picture of our dog enjoying the snow on the White House lawn. Thanks for donating to our campaign and please keep up the support.

    Do your critical friends want an invitation to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom? Did they donate that much money??

  4. Krauss on December 26, 2012, 4:45 pm


    I think for many, Obama was a shoe-in, not because of his accomplishments but simply because Romney was just such a total trainwreck. It also allowed Obama to not really be for anything in particular, just draw a contrast with himself and Romney and say “I’m not that guy”.

    This is just psychobabble, but, one little pet theory of mine is that a lot of liberals really soaked up the “saviour of the world” meme pushed by the media in ’08. When he was revealed to be just as vain and banal as many other pols, the need to attack and denounce him is greater, since the expectation of him to rise above it was far greater to begin with.

    Nonetheless, his vanity and narcissism is usually quite well hidden and mostly shows itself in what he does not do, rather than what he does do.
    Bromwich’s masterful (and toxic!) takedown of Obama at HuffPo recently is an example of this.

    One final note: I believe Obama’s primary motivation is, in fact, vanity. He wants to be historic not for any particular reason, but rather just to be historic for his own sake. This is why, I think, he is often praising Reagan and why he has been mum on most post-WWII Democratic presidents. Reagan changed the conversaton in a way that, say, Clinton, Carter or JFK did not. LBJ got a lot done, but the momentum was already there. Even Eisenhower had begun the slow crawl of the civil rights movement. Reagan did a 180. Obama admires that kind of impact. That the impact was a disaster is of a lesser concern to Obama.

    Obama wants to be the next Reagan: the next president of which the coming presidents are measured with, for better or worse, over their influence. This also explains why he has been so mum on so many issues. So many people chalk it up to his “conciliatory nature”. That’s malarkey.
    He just doesn’t care.

    Whether it is his written-by-Wall St regulations, his inability to fight for things at all(climate change, the warrantless wiretapping, which he even dropped his opposition of, Afghanistan, drone strikes etc) or downright ignoring them, like the disastrous ‘war on drugs’ which is heavily aimed at racial minorities. His response to the black leadership? “Quit whining and take off your slippers”. This was said in the summer of 2011, as black unemployment was reaching Great Depression levels of close to 20%.

    Obama, ultimately, is a caretaker of the empire. He is basically the black Clinton. The only thing that seperates them is that he, unlike Clinton, got health care passed. And because of circumstances, not inner convictions, Obama cannot be as accommodating towards the big banks. His base, and more importantly for him, the media, will not allow it. But he’s done with Wall Street. He even claimed a year ago that “nothing that Wall St did was illegal”. Some progressive champion.

    • chinese box on December 27, 2012, 7:55 am


      He always seemed kind of dubious to me. I was actually rooting for Hillary during the debates, and I don’t even like her.

      During the initial phases of the 2008 campaign, much of the black community was cool towards Obama. The easy explanation for this is that is upbringing was “too white” but I wonder if they didn’t sense there was something fishy about him. In my experience AAs are very good at seeing through BS.

    • RoHa on December 27, 2012, 10:05 pm

      Shoo-in. Nothing to do with shoes.

      • Mooser on December 28, 2012, 12:48 pm

        “Shoo-in. Nothing to do with shoes.”

        Maybe feats did their stuff?

  5. NorthOfFortyNine on December 26, 2012, 7:00 pm

    I suppose nobody panned it because the card has nothing to do with Christmas? -N49.

  6. Citizen on December 26, 2012, 8:06 pm

    The card sucks. But imagine what Romney’s would be like. Small consolation.

    • Mooser on December 28, 2012, 12:46 pm

      “The card sucks. But imagine what Romney’s would be like.”

      I know. I walked through Temple Square on my way to work for a year or so. That’s where they instill the Mormon intrinsics.

      • LanceThruster on January 4, 2013, 5:41 pm

        Did you remember not to kiss or show too much flesh in the square as the public easement was bought up by the church so they could bring the hammer down on miscreants?

  7. piotr on December 27, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Perhaps the meaning is “my body is in D.C. but my soul stays in Chicago”, where Bo could frolic in snow as shown here.

    Another meaning can be from aria “Song of Varangian Guest” in opera “Sadko”:
    “[their] thoughts are secret from the fogs”.

  8. libra on December 27, 2012, 1:08 pm

    Well, my first thought was that at least Professor Ellis would be delighted that Obama has cut down the White House Christmas tree and banished Santa from the grounds.

    But perhaps there is a darker motive to all this than just pleasing the Professor. We mustn’t forget that Obama is a savvy operator, at least as far as his public image is concerned. Was he worried that, in this brief season of goodwill to all, unkind comparisons might be drawn between himself and Santa. After all, here are the only two men on Earth with the power to aerially encircle the globe and precisely target all who lie below. But whilst jolly old Santa enjoys delivering from the heavens toys and games to the expectant children below, …

    • Mooser on December 28, 2012, 12:44 pm

      “But whilst jolly old Santa enjoys delivering from the heavens toys and games to the expectant children below…

      By dint of the worst kind of animal abuse, and led by a DUI reindeer. And every kid spying on them, to judge their ungulate aeronautics.
      I’m telling you, Christmas is frighteningly fraught and never leaves me gruntled.

  9. crone on December 27, 2012, 2:29 pm

    well, the card is black and white…

    with lots of gray…

    • Mooser on December 28, 2012, 12:39 pm

      Article doesn’t show the full impact of the card. It’s one of those musical cards, and when you open it, it plays, what else….?

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