- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

THE CRECHE CRUSH

Once and for all, did the Nativity creche get left out of the White House “holiday” decorations? The entire twinkling array took 92 volunteers a total of 3,400 hours to set out, and the mix includes a Bo Obama replica and a 400-pound gingerbread house.

When The New York Times indirectly revealed on Sunday that President Obama and his family were planning a “non-religious Christmas” sans Nativity scene, critical reaction was swift.

“The Obamas would like to neuter Christmas,” says Catholic League President William Donahue. “If the Obamas want to deprive their children of celebrating Christmas, that is their business. It is the business of the public to hold them accountable for the way they celebrate Christmas in the White House.”

Messing with the creche is not wise, says Tim Graham of the Media Research Center: “This goes in the same file folder of holiday bumbles as the plans to cut the White House Hanukkah party guest list in half.”

But let us now cut to the chase. The Nativity scene is in its traditional spot in the East Room, and the White House is emphasizing the “universality” of the Christmas message. The United Nations climate summit, however, is an official Christmas-free zone. No Tannenbaums, no Kris Kringle, no nothin’ - though the global warming extravaganza will include motocross racing, a fashion show, an official “Copenhagen” cocktail and gender studies.

As for the numbers, A Zogby poll released Tuesday revealed that 81 percent of Americans plans to put up a Christmas tree.

OH NO OSLO

Headlines tell all as Mr. Obama heads to Norway to collect his big Nobel you-know-what:

“At war, honored for peace: Obama’s tricky moment.” (Associated Press)

“A Peace Prize for a war president.” (CBS News)

“Peace activists arrive for Obama’s visit.” (Norway Post)

“Give Obama a break.” (Foreign Policy magazine)

‘W’ RISING

Former President George W. Bush will have a clear legacy whether his critics like it or not. Indeed, the legacy of “43” has been articulated and launched. Kind of like an aircraft carrier.

“During the first eight years of the 21st century, America was tested time and again - at home and abroad,” says Mark Langdale, president of the George Bush Foundation.

Mr. Bush concentrated on a quartet of powerful, simple mantras during those trying times, he says, and the group remains true to them as they plan the new George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas

“The center is committed to advancing the four principles - freedom, opportunity, responsibility and compassion - that guided his presidency and remain the focus of his and Mrs. Bush’s ongoing work,” Mr. Langdale notes.

And while an expanding chorus of President Obama’s critics now suggest he employ “Bush-like bluntness” in the face of serious global complexities, here’s the short take on the emerging Bush legacy, according to those who will present it to the public:

Mr. Bush “rallied America” after 9/11 and “liberated millions of people around the world from tyranny and oppressive regimes”

He also “inspired new generations of students to reach for higher educational achievements,” “launched health initiatives in Africa that saved millions” and “championed faith-based partnerships to give hope by addressing poverty and crime.”

Check things out at www.georgebushcenter.org.

BUMPER PATROL

“Merry Christmas whether it offends you or not!” - bumper sticker spotted in Clinton, Md.

TEDDY’S ROUGH RIDE

James Bradley wrote the 2000 best-seller “Flags of Our Fathers,” detailing the lives of five Marines and a Navy corpsman who raised the American flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The author’s father, John Bradley, was one of the six. Three years later, the author produced “Flyboys,” another best-seller offering insight into the pilots of the era, among them a young George H.W. Bush.

Mr. Bradley’s recently published third book - “The Imperial Cruise: The Secret History of Empire and War” - takes on the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and the heady decades that followed. It is not a flattering portrayal of the proverbial “T.R.,” casting him as a reckless, secretive poseur at times. But Mr. Bradley came to know the 26th president rather well.

“Roosevelt was far ahead of the media in terms of his image management,” Mr. Bradley tells Inside the Beltway. “And he lived in a time when the media was formally respectful of power and didn’t look behind the scenes. If he came into power today, with 20 years of experience projecting image as an author, he might be as effective.”

As he teased out myth from fact about President Roosevelt, Mr. Bradley had a few revelations of his own.

“I often was surprised that the information that I reveal was there for me to reveal it. Why didn’t we know these facts before? Why was so much of what Roosevelt said and did left on history’s cutting room floor?” he asks.

Should he ask that question of every president, Mr. Bradley would have another book to write.

POLL DU JOUR

*72 percent of Americans say the nation is “not politically engaged.”

*72 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Republicans agree.

*62 percent of Americans say they can usually find “a reliable source of news.”

*66 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans agree.

*12 percent of Americans fault the quality of news programming and no longer follow the news.

*9 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of Republicans agree.

Source: A Zogby poll of 2,330 adults conducted Nov. 4-6 and released Tuesday.

Good cheer, Bronx cheers, strategery to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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