The economy may be weak, unemployment strong and the first family soon to vacate the White House for another half-month of vacation in Hawaii.
But the Obamas have gone all out in decorating their house this year, including a nearly quarter-ton gingerbread White House.
They have also installed 37 different Christmas trees. Thirty of the trees are live, or were, including one nearly 19-feet tall from Wisconsin. Seven of the three dozen Christmas trees are artificial or homemade including, of course, one from recyclables.
Of course, every administration decorates the White House in some way for holidays, from green fountain water in mid-March to evergreen wreaths come December.
The extravagance of 2011′s decorations, however, are striking given the widespread joblessness, pale economic growth, home foreclosures and grim outlook for 2012, not to mention the incumbent president’s historically low approval rating heading into his reelection bid.
How simple, politically astute, symbolically helpful and cost-effective it would have been for the Obamas this year to say that in sympathy with so many struggling countrymen, they were curtailing holiday decorations to match the sacrifices of others.
First of all, the White House is a public building, so decorating the White House with Christmas trees isn’t the Obamas’ call any more than putting up the national Christmas tree on the Ellipse is. Second, as James Joyner notes, buying and decorating a whole truckload of trees means jobs for some people; Christmas decorations don’t grow on trees, y’know.
And if this is some sort of stealth attack on the Baby Jesus, this is the way to go about it: Christmas trees were filched from decidedly non-Christian winter solstice ceremonies. (But nothing says “the holidays” like a dead tree stuck in the middle of the living room covered with shiny stuff that drives the cats crazy.) So kudos to the secret Kenyan Muslim: he’s winning the war on Christmas.