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CRECHE ALERT

Indeed, the official Christmas theme at the White House this year is the cozy but generic “Shine, Give, Share,” but never fear, there is still a nativity scene among the many decorations, a spokesman tells Inside the Beltway. The traditional 18th-century Italian creche made of terra cotta and carved wood is happily situated in the East Room, as it has been since 1967 - the gift of one Mrs. Charles W. Engelhard Jr.

And speaking of history, the state china from former President George W. Bush’s administration is also part of the glittering mix, arranged in a grand holiday dinner display in where-else-but the China Room. Meanwhile, there’s a guide to it all - along with directions to craft an “East Garden Room Mini-Tree,” plus a recipe for pumpkin cake with orange cream cheese frosting - right here: WhiteHouse.gov/2011HolidayTour.

A CLANDESTINE CHRISTMAS

“Scaling back our holiday celebrations is just another small example of our commitment to making sure that we continue to make wise fiscal decisions across the board.”

(Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., on his decision to stage a more modest seasonal party at the CIA and elsewhere in the intelligence community this year.)

CAIN STILL ABLE

Presidential hopeful Herman Cain continues to battle his way down the campaign trail, pursued by shrill journalists seeking their daily sexual affairs fix. To their credit, Mr. Cain’s political rivals, for the most part, keep their tacky schadenfreude about the situation to themselves. The American public, meanwhile, is not keen to be rushed into judgment about Mr. Cain, a candidate who ruled favorability polls for weeks.

Some say it’s way uglier than all that, though.

“Once you go conservative black, you better watch your back,” points out Human Events legal affairs correspondent Ann Coulter.

“With the mainstream media giddily reporting on an alleged affair involving Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, how long can it be before they break the news that their 2004 vice presidential candidate conceived a ‘love child’ with his mistress, Rielle Hunter?

“The left is trying to destroy Cain with a miasma of hazy accusations leveled by three troubled women. Considered individually, the accusations are utterly unbelievable. They are even less credible taken together. This is how liberals destroy a man, out of nothing.”

Miss Coulter adds, “But this is how liberals dirty you up when they’ve got nothing: They launch a series of false accusations, knowing that Americans with busy lives won’t follow each story to the end and notice that they were all blind alleys. The liberal media is an old story, but it’s still a big story when it comes to creating the impression of scandal out of thin air.”

CHRISTIEFIED

The Republican words heard ‘round the world? Well, maybe. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a recent demand to President Obama after he delicately sidestepped the pile of supercommittee mess last week, asking, “What the hell are we paying you for?” The phrase could have a long shelf life:

“Chris Christie coins the bumper sticker of the year,” observes Lucianne Goldberg, proprietress of the news and opinion site Lucianne.com.

DINNER WITH RON

His last book was titled “Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom.” But there’s more to presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul than his philosophy. His appealing frugality also comes into play: now on sale for a very reasonable $8, it’s the collectible “Ron Paul Family Cookbook,” featuring 28 pages of family recipes and photos.

But wait. Wife Carol Paul also has penned a section called “The American Dream” which briefly recounts the history and heritage of Mr. Paul and family. See the little book at his campaign site: RonPaul2012.com.

“And plan to use the cookbook as one of the best campaign handouts you will ever find,” Mr. Paul’s campaign advises.

NAVAL GAZING

Bristling with top brass and good will, the black-tie Centennial of Naval Aviation Commemorative Gala celebrates an incredible 100 years of U.S. naval aviation Thursday at the National Building Museum.

On hand for the flyer’s fete: Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta; U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., commandant, U.S. Coast Guard; Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, assistant commandant, U.S. Marine Corps; Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff;Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of Naval Operations; Capt. Christopher J. Ferguson, commander of the final NASA space shuttle flight; and Capt. Jim DiMatteo, president of the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation.

Country music croooner Lee Greenwood of “Proud to be an American” fame will entertain; “fabulous” videos of past, present and future naval aviation will remind guests of Navy prowess. On the menu: beef tenderloin and jumbo prawns, locally grown salad and veggies, and a dessert reception and champagne toast.

And the details: “Decor will be decorated in blues and golds - with a touch of red and light blue,” a spokeswoman says. “Flowers are red roses, gold orchids and light blue hydangeas in vases - and navy linens. These are the colors that represent the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.”

POLL DU JOUR

• 85,000: number of visitors expected to tour the White House in December.

• 400 pounds: weight of the official White House gingerbread house.

• 2 months: length of time it took to construct it.

• 136: number of volunteers who decorated the White House.

• 30: number of fresh Christmas trees in the White House.

• 18 feet 6 inches: height of White HouseChristmas tree, a balsam fir grown in Neshkoro, Wis.

• 7: number of Christmas trees made from paper, felt or recycled aluminum.

• 5: number of topiaries of the White House pooch Bo made of felt, buttons, pom-poms, marshmallows, licorice and garbage bags.

Source: The White House press office.

Caterwaul, doggerel, ballyhoo to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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