The War on Christmas took a new casualty this week: presidential honesty. While President Trump implied that his predecessor exiled Christmas cheer from the White House as part of his campaign against the holiday, historical records prove him wrong.
During this year’s October Values Voter Summit in Washington, Trump told supporters that his presidency means that “we’re saying Merry Christmas again.” And again, in a statement on tax reform last week, he started his speech with “I told you that we would be saying Merry Christmas again, right?” Fox writer Todd Starnes gushed over Trump’s words, saying “Thank you, Mr. President, for being a man of your word – a man who is not ashamed to say “Merry Christmas.””
It’s a touching story: a holiday banished for eight years by a devious PC Grinch, only to be returned to the White House at last. The only problem? It’s not true.
President Obama started his first taped Christmas address in 2009 by saying “Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas.” In the seven years afterward, the former president mentioned the holiday in every Christmas Address, at press conferences, in front of the White House Christmas tree, at charity appearances, and while visiting his birth state, Hawaii. Indeed, MSNBC released a video of all the times President Obama said “Merry Christmas” during his tenure, to drive the point home.
Trump has been dragging out the “War on Christmas” bogeyman like a past-its-date Christmas tree since 2015 when he told supporters that if he became president, “we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store,” and suggested boycotting Starbucks for their plain red holiday cups. And Trump supporters have picked up on it: Fox News publicized the fact that Obama’s White House social secretary considered nixing the White House Nativity Scene as though it was evidence of an anti-Christianity conspiracy, even though the suggestion was shot down almost immediately. On Twitter, people accused President Obama of photoshopping the Nativity Scene into official photos.
But the evidence for a political anti-Christianity stance, now or during Obama’s tenure, is thinner than the chance of a white Christmas in Florida. Indeed, Christianity may be one of the few religions not under attack in 2017 America, where the president retweets videos from an anti-Muslim hate group and gives his support to Neo-Nazis who riot in the streets, shouting, “Jews will not replace us!”
In the closing salvo of last week’s tax speech, President Trump promised America “a big, beautiful Christmas present” in the form of his new tax plan. The plan will raise taxes for the lowest income groups by 2027, and its greatest gains will go to the top 1 percent and the top 0.1 percent of American households. Whether or not you believe President Trump is making Christmas great again, he’s certainly redefining what it means.
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