The Obama Christmas card reveals the zero at the center of our government

Obama 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 scandals revealed 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.

And speaking of nothingness, looking at the card, I find Obama’s signature striking.  It’s an impressively artistic signature, with its bold and balanced capitals, but it’s also a very peculiar signature.  Obama’s first name is given over almost entirely to a backwards bulging, open-bottomed “B.”  After this impressive start comes a string of unintelligible letters.  Even the “k,” which should be the upright punctuation to  his first name has vanished.

Slashed zeroObama’s last name is even more peculiarly written.  The over-sized capital “O” envelopes the “b”, while the rest of the letters — “ama” — fade into a straight line of nothing-ness.  And speaking of nothing-ness, think about that “O” for a minute:  If you didn’t know better, wouldn’t you think that it’s the symbol for the “slashed zero” which is written that way in order to distinguish it from the letter “O”?

When I was growing up, my father had discovered at some used-book store a “graphology” paperback that purported to tell you everything you needed to know about a person’s character simply by looking at that person’s handwriting.  It’s definitely a pseudo-science, but I still can’t help but wonder what a graphologist would make of our President’s signature.  Perhaps he’s been telling us all along that he’s a nothing, a zero, a cipher.

Considering the empty White House, the meaningless greeting, and that zeroed out signature, the Obama Christmas card is a peculiarly telling document.  It goes out to America at the end of Obama’s terrible, awful, no-good, disastrous year, one that showed him to be an ineffectual liar whose signature accomplishment has proven to be a dismal failure, and shows every sign of getting even worse in the future.  This is a nothing of a man, unable to inhabit the House that the American people entrusted to him, he celebrates nothing at all, and his signature is the giveaway that there’s never been anyone there to begin with.

In writing about Obama, I’ve quoted Hughes Mearns’ Antigonish before, and it seems appropriate to quote it here again:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

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Comments

  1. says

    I was enormously surprised that first Christmas that I received a Presidential Christmas Card from the GW Bush family. I was humbled with each successive year until the end of his tenure. There was on Bush card that had the White House in the background and Barney the dog romping through the snow in the foreground. I don’t see the Obama card as any different than that.
     
    I am a bit disturbed that the Obama Christmas cookies are in the shaped and frosted to resemble their two dogs. And then they and guests ate the family pet cookies. Where, oh, where is PETA when you need them?!

  2. Charles Martel says

    I just hope to God that the Obamas don’t put any of those dog-shaped cookies in a crate on top of their car if they ever decide to take a driving vacation.

  3. says

    Why do you worry about stuff like this Book?
     
    Obama is not that important in the grand universal scheme of things. At least, not any more important than the pattern and coloring of this roach’s carapace.

  4. erisguy says

    Am I being a pedant
    Yes. The sentence does not declare they are gathering around a season. The sentence is a clumsy elision and relies upon the reader being familiar with certain American customs and phrases.
     
    The carol “Gather Around the Christmas Tree” was written during the Civil War and is by the same songster who wrote “Three Kings of the Orient.” Asking friends and family to gather ‘round (usually written that way) for some activity is common where I’m from.
     
    Obama is unable to mention what we should gather ‘round because he would have to mention the hated name (in his ideology) of Christ.
     
    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.
     
    Yeah, yeah, how can we spend money on a space program where there is hunger in the world? how can we spend money on weapons when schools haven’t enough textbooks? how can we…; how can we do anything but fund my pet programs.
     
     George and Laura Bush were not ashamed that they celebrated Christmas.
    Well said.

  5. dahozho says

    Even if the obamas are relying on some sort of familiarity with American customs or phrases, the card’s sentence is badly constructed, doesn’t read well, and basically just falls flat on its face.  For someone relying SO much on image, this type of badly written message just makes all the scandals and shenanigans and destructive nature of this administration that much more noticeable.
    My first question was “gather around WHAT?”  The phrase itself is incomplete, and someone seems to have bent over backwards to avoid admitting there is a really significant Xtian holiday(I’m limiting myself to the one this week, as Hanukkah has been over for almost a month this year) involved with the end of December.  This tracks with the administrations’ lack of concern for Xtians being wiped out by muslims, many with U.S. funding, throughout the ME; and also very well with that U.N. speech where Obama basically told everyone he wasn’t going to help out anyone but muslims.  And we see this– day after day after day.  The obamas have no problem talking about and naming the holidays of other faiths, but when it comes to Xtian and Jewish holidays, the silence, or worse, PR pap, reverberates for anyone who is paying attention. 
    The colors are about what I expect from these people– again, the *effort* to provide an image of class and intellectualism, when it just falls to the level of design “hip” that is at least several years old and is completely uninspired.  Again, the obamas are basically giving the finger to Americans.  The card’s “message” is important.  The words these people use, and more importantly, DON’T use are also very important.  “Words, words, words.  They’re all we have to go on.”  Stoppard may be firmly entrenched on the Left, but ”Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead,” still has some brilliant moments/observations.

  6. Libby says

    Yeah, the card’s message makes no sense, but it’s like a lot of the lofty phrases from Obama’s speeches that don’t hold up well upon further inspection, such as telling Americans to “set our eyes on the horizon search for an ocean of tomorrows, a sky of tomorrows” or that hooey about being the ones we were waiting for.
    As for the design, the first thing that jumped to mind was: what would he do if he hadn’t adopted the dogs? Like Michelle’s new found interest in gardening, they seem like PR props purchased to humanize the first family. The only Obama Christmas tradition I recall hearing about is that they don’t exchange gifts.

  7. Ron19 says

     
    On teleprompter:
    “This season, as you gather around, may the warmth and joy of the holidays fill your home.”
     
    Off teleprompter:
    As we gather around this season, may the warmth and joy of the holidays fill your home.
     
     

Trackbacks

  1. […] 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 scandals revealed 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. (Bookworm Room) […]

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