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…

The story of Malia Obama’s Mexican vacation reveals double standards and a noodle-spined media

Over the weekend, I got a link to a story about Malia Obama heading off to Mexico for vacation with 12 friends and 25 Secret Service agents.  The story is newsworthy because it implicates taxpayer concerns:  Malia is going to a nation that the State Department warns is dangerous, and Americans are footing the bill for the 25 federal employees who are necessary to offset that danger.  I know that these Secret Service agents are on the payroll regardless, but feeding and lodging them outside of Washington, D.C. becomes the taxpayers’ burden.  (In the same way, Obama’s little basketball jaunt with PM Cameron cost the taxpayers an extra $478,000 over the regular fixed costs in the “taking care of POTUS” budget.)

You’ll notice that I haven’t included the link to the story about Malia Obama’s trip.  That’s because, by the time I received the email with the link to the Malia vacation story, the great white-out had begun.  As I, and every other sentient web-using being had noticed, the story about Malia Obama was melting away as quickly as the wet Wicked Witch of the West.  Those of us trying to find a solid link for the story felt as if we were playing a bizarre version of whack-a-mole.  The links would pop up for a second, only to vanish again.

The big question, of course, was why?  Why is an apparently properly sourced story vanishing?  If it was false, one would expect White House push-back, with the news sources either denying the White House’s arguments or issuing apologies for their error.  A vanishing story, however, has been a first.  And now the truth has come out.  The White House told the news agencies that it’s not fair to report on the kids:

The White House has admitted to telling news agencies to pull stories on Malia Obama visiting the Mexico for spring break, Politico reports.

Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emailed Dylan Byers:

From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.

There are a couple of problems, however, with the White House’s reasoning and the media’s craven collapse.  First, as I noted in my opening paragraph, it is newsworthy that the White House has opted to impose on taxpayers the very real and high costs of sending the First Daughter to a nation that’s on the State Department’s own warning list (although the region in which Melia is now traveling is not specifically named in that list).

Second, the Obamas routinely trot out the kids to score political points.  The most recent example was the way President Obama used his daughters to justify calling Sandra Fluke to sympathize with her when Rush Limbaugh suggested that spending thousands of dollars on sex aids, and then expecting others to pay for them, suggested that Fluke is not a lady, in the old-fashioned sense of the word.  Bristol Palin sums it up nicely:

You don’t know my telephone number, but I hope your staff is busy trying to find it. Ever since you called Sandra Fluke after Rush Limbaugh called her a slut, I figured I might be next.  You explained to reporters you called her because you were thinking of your two daughters, Malia and Sasha.  After all, you didn’t want them to think it was okay for men to treat them that way:

“One of the things I want them to do as they get older is engage in issues they care about, even ones I may not agree with them on,” you said.  “I want them to be able to speak their mind in a civil and thoughtful way. And I don’t want them attacked or called horrible names because they’re being good citizens.”

Most political observers also thought it wasn’t a coincidence that Barack’s and Michelle’s 2011 Christmas card — the last one they’ll be sending out before the election — prominently features their two daughters.  This was a campaign photo and it made the daughters a prop.

I don’t mind that Obama is using his daughters politically.  Politicians do that all the time, and it’s no use pretending that the Obamas don’t have two daughters out there who make perfect photographic and rhetorical props.  What I do mind is that the White House gets to eat its cake and have it.  It announces to the press “We get to use the Obama girls when it’s good for us, but you don’t get to use the Obama girls when it’s bad for us.”  And the press, meekly, goes away.

Rather than collapsing spinelessly, the press, collectively, should have said, “Sorry, but this story is already out there, so you’ll have to deal with the security consequences of sending your daughter off to a dangerous country.  As for future stories, we won’t report on your daughters if you’ll stop using them to score political points.  As long as you keep them in the public eye, however, they’re fair game for honest reporting about their activities.”

I guess, though, that my dream of an upright and honest media is as much a fantasy as that melting Wicked Witch of the West.

UPDATE:  Welcome, Instapundit readers!  The pleasure is all mine.

UPDATE II:  Welcome readers from Michael  I’m delighted to have you visit.