In one well-known West Wing Thanksgiving episode, Pres. Jed Bartlett pardoned a Turkey and granted asylum to a group of Chinese victims of religious persecution. But this week in the real west wing, besides barbecued turkey, two wars, and a financial meltdown, George W. Bush, another president whose series has been canceled, seemed intent on playing to his base one last time by making his legacy the long-awaited conversion of the Jews.
At least that's what it seemed like to Jewish leaders who received invitations from the White House to this year's annual menorah lighting. On the inside of those Hanukkah invites, George and Laura Bush request "the pleasure of your company at a Hanukkah reception." But the outside of the card features a horse-drawn wagon carrying the White House Christmas tree up to a snow-clad White House, and to drive home the White Christmas message, a sign on the side of the wagon reads, "White House Christmas Tree 2008."
To paraphrase the Belgian painter René Magritte, this is not a Hanukkah bush
Recipients of the Bush Chrismakkard are invited to a Hanukkah Reception on Dec. 15. That's about a week too early, since Hanukkah starts this year on the evening of 24 Kislev, which is Sunday, Dec. 21, on the White House calendar.
Although Laura Bush insisted that sending the Christmas card to Jewish leaders was a mistake, mixing Hanukkah and Christmas is nothing new for the Bushes. At last year's White House Hanukkah Reception, Pres. Bush presided over the lighting of the National Menorah flanked by two full-dress Christmas trees. And White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto was at a loss yesterday to explain why attendance at last September's annual Ramadan White House luncheon was so low.
Given the current political climate, the Bushes haven't yet decided what to do about Kwanzaa this year.
George and Laura, the Hanukkah Bushes, released this White House photo showing last year's menorah lighting, which features at least two fully-decorated trees
Jon Stewart "sings" to Stephen Colbert, "Can I interest you in Hanukkah?" but Colbert, like George W. Bush, the man he characterizes as "the greatest president," gives Hanukkah a pass.