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Obama’s 37 Christmas Trees

Glenn Reynolds points to Andrew Malcolm‘s IBD column titled “As Americans struggle, the Obamas make do with 37 Christmas trees.”

The economy may be weak, unemployment strong and the first family soon to vacate the White House for another half-month of vacation in Hawaii.

But the Obamas have gone all out in decorating their house this year, including a nearly quarter-ton gingerbread White House.

They have also installed 37 different Christmas trees. Thirty of the trees are live, or were, including one nearly 19-feet tall from Wisconsin. Seven of the three dozen Christmas trees are artificial or homemade including, of course, one from recyclables.

[...]

Of course, every administration decorates the White House in some way for holidays, from green fountain water in mid-March to evergreen wreaths come December.

The extravagance of 2011’s decorations, however, are striking given the widespread joblessness, pale economic growth, home foreclosures and grim outlook for 2012, not to mention the incumbent president’s historically low approval rating heading into his reelection bid.

How simple, politically astute, symbolically helpful and cost-effective it would have been for the Obamas this year to say that in sympathy with so many struggling countrymen, they were curtailing holiday decorations to match the sacrifices of others.

One sees this sort of argument constantly, regardless of who’s occupying the White House. It’s invariably silly.

For one thing, these Christmas trees aren’t for the Obamas. Rather, they’re for the tens of thousands of tourists who line up in the cold to tour the White House during the holidays. Indeed, precisely because of all the tourists running around, this is the part of the White House that the Obamas are least likely to use.

For another, the notion that the best thing one can do during a bad economy is to cut back on spending is remarkably counterproductive. If anything, the Obamas should be laying on more Christmas trees–and so should the rest of those fortunate to have jobs. That’s, after all, how people who sell and transport trees and ornaments put food on their tables. The last thing they need is for people to start cutting back in some bizarre show of solidarity.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    A war on Christmas indeed….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  2. And as anyone who has been paying attention (as I know, for example, that Reynolds has) knows that the crazy decorating frenzy is a common, bipartisan, and expected activity. It is the stuff of TV specials and whatnot.

    And, as James rightly notes, the money spent helps the economy whilst not spending it would, in fact, hurt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. Has anyone informed Rick Perry? It seems odd for Obama to be fighting a “War On Religion” while filling the White House up with decorations marking a major Christian holiday.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  4. WR says:

    And of course if Obama had taken Hack Malcolm’s advice, said hack would be screaming about Obama’s war on Christmas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  5. Hey Norm says:

    Glenn Reynolds being stupid??? Shocking, shocking I say.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  6. Rick Almeida says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Duh. The trees are to celebrate Celtic pagan and/or Roman Saturnalia-type holidays.

    Where’s the creche?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  7. Tom Hilton says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Perry could always argue that the trees are a pagan thing, not actually Christian. (“Why is there no nativity scene?”) Believe, me, people like that will always find a way to slam the President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. Tom Hilton says:

    @Rick Almeida: Oops, cross-posted. GMTA and all that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. smintheus says:

    Nothing Andrew Malcolm says should be taken seriously. Barely a day goes by without Malcolm accusing Obama of something that he gave Bush a pass for doing. The same is true of IBD.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. de stijl says:

    Obama’s got 37 problems, but a tree ain’t one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  11. de stijl says:

    For another, the notion that the best thing one can do during a bad economy is to cut back on spending is remarkably counterproductive.

    James Joyner: the last Keynesian Republican ; – )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  12. Curtis says:

    I think of it as a job creation measure, creating something for pundits to draw page views by bloviating about nonsense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Tano says:

    Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Malcolm. What a pair.
    Just a couple of seething class warriors trying to stoke resentment amongst the common folk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. rjs says:

    really f**king petty

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Didn’t GWB tell everyone to go shop like crazy for the Christmas season of 2001 to fight the recession that sprang from the 9/11 attacks? I think he did, though more astutely worded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. nellcote says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    “The traditional 18th-century Italian creche made of terra cotta and carved wood is happily situated in t.he East Room, as it has been since 1967

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  17. RalfW says:

    “The last thing they need is for people to start cutting back in some bizarre show of solidarity.”

    I’m so glad you see why fiscal austerity by government is counterproductive in a recession!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. RalfW says:

    Oh, and you may have noticed that there’s an absurd email smear campaign going on that claims the Obama’s have no Christmas trees (they’re secret moooooslims, ya know).

    I love how the Obamas can simultaneously have too few AND too many trees.

    You can’t win with that fine setup.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  19. @nellcote:

    The traditional 18th-century Italian creche made of terra cotta and carved wood is happily situated in t.he East Room, as it has been since 1967

    …which often leads to awkward momments when visting dignitaries want to know why there’s a Nativity scene set up in the middle of August.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. TR says:

    Some on the right will find fault with anything the president does.

    If Obama were to resign the presidency today, House Republicans would rise up as one and force him to become dictator for life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. It’s almost as if ‘the right’ is doing the same thing ‘the left’ did when Bush was President.

    At least on my blog I’m consistent and don’t go for the moment like nutter-butter blogs like this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  22. Bort says:

    Good thing no one reads your crappy uninspired blog, Con Teacher. Good to know you need to come here to try and promote it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0