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Monday, December 23, 2013

President Obama's "Christmas" card

The BookwormRoom has a perceptive take on President Obama's family Christmas card:

There’s been a fair amount written about the Obama Christmas card. It’s a pop-up card, which has an expensive look that’s unseemly as millions lose their insurance and millions more have joined the ranks of the perpetually unemployed.  It’s colors are cool, not warm, which seems to refute the warmth that Christmas brings to people in the dark of winter.  It shows a vacant building, which seems symbolic when one considers that Obama invariable answer to all the scandalsrevealed in the past year is to disclaim knowledge or responsibility.  And lastly, despite going out at Christmas time and despite Obama’s claims to be a Christian, the card makes no mention of Christmas.  Keep in mind with this last point that the card ostensibly comes not from “the government” but from a man and his family.  George and Laura Bush were not ashamed that they celebrated Christmas and always sent out cards that included Biblical verses.

Amidst all the buzz about the Obama Christmas card, there’s one thing I haven’t seen.  No one is talking about the card’s peculiar message:  “As we gather around this season, may the warmth and joy of the holidays fill your home.

Am I being a pedant, or is it bizarre to “gather around” a “season”? People gather around hearth fires and Christmas trees, and infant cradles and birthday cakes, and classic paintings in museums and street buskers making beautiful music.  That is, people gather around tangible objects.  People do not gather around something as abstract as a season.  It’s the same as saying “As we gather around this air” or “As we gather around this ambiance.”  Yes, those are nouns, but they’re not the type of nouns one “gathers around.”  In trying to create a card that is all things to all people (never mind that it coincidentally goes out at Christmas), the White House has managed to create nothingness. 

(To be charitable, it is possible to read the opening phrase as a muddy version of "As we gather around [tangible objects during] this season." Whatever.) Read the rest here
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