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Opinion

Political season’s greetings

Christmas and politics go together like, well, oil and water, but that doesn’t stop politicians from using the holiday to get their messages across. Below, some holiday comments from candidates and presidents of the past and present — whether they’re sniping about the “War on Christmas,” aiming to inspire or telling war stories about Christmas in Cambodia, as Sen. John Kerry did, only to have the tale contradicted by his Swift boat crew members. You’ll also find President Obama’s 2009 holiday card, which stirred controversy because it didn’t include the word “Christmas,” and what may be the most famous presidential Christmas address, which Calvin Coolidge ordered printed in the nation’s newspapers in 1927.

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.”

Gov. Rick Perry, campaign ad, December 2011

“Because this is the season when we celebrate the simplest yet most profound gift of all: the birth of a child who devoted his life to a message of peace, love, and redemption. A message that says no matter who we are, we are called to love one another — we are our brother’s keeper, we are our sister’s keeper, our separate stories in this big and busy world are really one. Today, we’re also thinking of those who can’t be home for the holidays — especially all our courageous countrymen serving overseas.”

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President Obama, weekly address, Dec. 25, 2010

“Season’s Greetings, 2009. May your family have a joyous holiday season and a new year blessed with hope and happiness.”

White House Christmas card, 2009.

“One night after being mistreated as a POW, a guard loosened the ropes binding me, easing my pain. On Christmas that same guard approached me and without saying a word he drew a cross in the sand. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas. I’ll never forget that no matter where you are, how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up.”

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Sen. John McCain, campaign ad, 2007

“2003 was filled with landmarks: Our 25th wedding anniversary, Marcus’ new business, and my dad’s death. All events came together for me in the celebration of Thanksgiving, where I was reminded that we are all Pilgrims on this earth, here for a brief shining moment. We are created for a purpose by a God of design, order and love. He has a personalized plan for each one, knowing before we were born how many days we would have to live. He is so personal. He knows the number of hairs on our skin and He loves us enough to keep our lives off-balance. He seems to allow enough glitches to remind us that this gig is temporary and that soon we’ll find our Real Home is our Eternal Home.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann, Christmas letter, 2003

“As we celebrate another Yuletide season, it’s hard not to notice that Christmas in America simply doesn’t feel the same anymore. Although an overwhelming majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, and those who don’t celebrate it overwhelmingly accept and respect our nation’s Christmas traditions, a certain shared public sentiment slowly has disappeared. The Christmas spirit, marked by a wonderful feeling of goodwill among men, is in danger of being lost in the ongoing war against religion. Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view. The justification is always that someone, somewhere, might possibly be offended or feel uncomfortable living in the midst of a largely Christian society, so all must yield to the fragile sensibilities of the few. The ultimate goal of the anti-religious elites is to transform America into a completely secular nation, a nation that is legally and culturally biased against Christianity.”

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Rep. Ron Paul, essay, 2003

“I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared — seared — in me.”

Sen. John F. Kerry, remarks in the Senate, 1986

“Our Nation is not one of solemn faces and sad demeanors, but our Nation is one of hope and vision and even happiness. And Christmas is a time to remind us that even when we do suffer and are disappointed in the United States and live even a dismal life, compared to our own immediate neighbors, compared to most of the rest of the world, we indeed have a joyous life and a wonderful life. God has blessed us in this country.”

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President Carter, Christmas tree-lighting address, 1977

“In this blessed season, let not blind passion darken our counsels. We shall not solve a moral question by dodging it. We can scarcely hope to have a full Christmas if we turn a deaf ear to the suffering of even the least of Christ’s little ones.”

President Truman, Christmas tree-lighting address, 1949

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

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President Coolidge, Christmas greeting, 1927

“Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift — the capture of Savannah.... Please make my grateful acknowledgements to your whole army — officers and men.”

President Lincoln, letter to Gen. William T. Sherman, Dec. 26, 1864


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