Six years ago today, on December 12, 2006, I wrote a column about the bloviation then swirling in the air, mostly coming out of the so-called Fox News channel, but from other areas, as well, about what they whimsically called, "The War on Christmas."
(It was all the more whimsical given that the United States at the time was in the midst of fighting two, actual, realty-based wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But then, when so many neocons at the time were what was known as "Chicken Hawks" who had never served in the military, let alone fought in a war while vaingloriously promoting them, perhaps it only made sense they would desperately try to find a "war" that they could finally participate in. And one without any risk to life, limb or fingernail.)
Most vocally leading the charge up San Nick Hill was Bill O'Reilly, though he was far from alone. War may be hell, but fake war can be quite the inclusive party, with lots of caroling, presents and holiday grog.
Over the intervening years at this time of year, the same old gang would trot out their guaranteed ratings-getting faux outrage, though continued-interest seemed to focused more around the Already-Convinced and Easily-Outraged, who tend to look for reasons to feel slighted (even when they're overwhelmingly the vast majority -- witness Mr. O'Reilly's recent whine after the election about white people now being a minority. Only in such a "need to feel slighted" world can 63.4 percent of the populace be felt a minority). For the rest of mankind, interest in the "War on Christmas" seemed to dwindle, almost to the point of nothingness.
But no! Worry not, ye of little faith! Rejoice! The "War on Christmas" is apparently not over. The battle lingers on. Just the other day, there was jolly, old ace reporter Bill O'Reilly, his laugh like a bowlful of jelly, trying to convince a world that knew much better that there still, really was an honest-to-God "War on Christmas. Raging ever-on.
And so, like those holiday chestnuts roasting on an open fire, it seemed proper to bring out that other old chestnut from this very day, six years ago -- just so you young whippersnappers can understand what war and hell was really like way back in the days of your forebears on December 12, 2006.
So, come close to the fire, kidlings, and wrap a blanket around you, while those who were there remind of the time when Christmas was under attack, George W. Bush was president, America's ability to fight on a third front was weakened by our military being stretched already in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the nation sat on the edge of its seat to get the latest war news of our young fighting men and women from the front...
December 12, 2006
War on Christmas Going Well, President to Stay the Course
With intense fighting continuing, the Administration claims today that government forces have finally made significant headway in the War on Christmas. The intensity of the conflict, which recently marked its first anniversary, has caught many in the White House by surprise. Experts there initially believed it would never continue long past last Thanksgiving, certain that government forces would be greeted by visions of sugarplums.
"We have received dispatches from our generals that several stores are now, in fact, greeting their customers with wishes of 'Merry Christmas'" reported White House spokesman Tony Snow. "The strident sounds of 'Happy Holidays' are no longer the only ones heard." The press secretary's statement was reinforced by the words "Mission Accomplished" strung up behind him in colorful twinkle lights.
When asked whether this upturn in activity may have more to do with it simply being the Christmas season than any actual military engagement, Snow replied that it is long White House policy not to comment "because there is an ongoing War."
Success does not come easily, however. Casualty figures were released for the previous week, and equaled the all-time high of zero. This brings the total casualties for the War since its start to zero. These statistics do not include religious conversions, because such information is closely guarded. Sources at the Pentagon, however, speaking under condition of anonymity, say that the number is zero.
Nonetheless, anti-government critic Bill O'Reilly believes that the Bush Administration has not been forthcoming about the truth and suggests that conditions are far worse than reported.
"This War on Christmas has been a debacle, and that's No Spin. We have facts about this," the Fox commentator related, bouncing almost uncontrollably in his chair. "There is an A&P in Fincastle, Kentucky, which refused to put a crèche in the frozen foods section! The store 'claimed' that it was a major health violation, but, please, c'mon, if you really believe in the Christmas spirit, there is nothing healthier than having Christmas in your heart." Then, O'Reilly added, "Pinhead!" to no one in particular.
Early reports of revelry had showed revel insurgents surprising the government, which had expected Christmas to be embraced by all faiths. It was the campaign codenamed Operation Holy Night that helped government patrols uncover insurgency bases, centered around malls. "It was pretty bad in the days leading into December," said Sgt. Thomas Granville of the 31st Battalion, stationed in Bennington, Vermont. "My men came upon a pack of shoppers leaving a Banana Republic openly wishing everyone 'Happy Holidays,' and we had to open fire to disperse them." The guerilla celebrants returned the onslaught in heavy action by yelling some very bad things at the soldiers.
The War on Christmas has been raging since the day after last Thanksgiving. For the first week, however, it went unfunded until Congress voted an initial $350,000, an amount which has since grown to $18 billion. This has been a point of contention for critics, as well.
"Just look at our troops!" Fox's O'Reilly yells. "We are drastically undermanned, and that's No Spin. We have 60,000 soldiers in the field fighting this, and we should have 12.5 million. That's a fact. Generals are afraid to tell the President because they're bleeding hearts, scared it'll create civil unrest. But it gets worse, my friend! Our boys have been forced to fight without the proper protection. All we've outfitted them with are tanks and jets - where are the Nazarene statuettes to put on the dashboards?" After which, O'Reilly added, "Shut up!" for no apparent reason.
Some independent analysts, however, have done studies which show that the War on Christmas is actually going better than even the White House has realized.
"There are about 300 million Americans," noted John Zogby of the Zogby Poll, "and 270 million of them are celebrating Christmas this year. In the War on Christmas, Christmas won."
Not so fast, insists John Gibson of Fox News. "There is only one true religion, and 30 million infidels in America still don't believe in it. That's a lot of Godless heathens going to Hell, and they could all drag the rest of country down there with them."
When asked for a comment about the War on Christmas, the Vatican initially had no response. However several hours later, a spokesman called back to read a statement from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI:
"My understanding is that Christmas is celebrated in Church, the home and the heart. It would seem to me that anyone who loses the spirit of Christmas because somebody didn't greet him properly doesn't really grasp the concept of Christmas in the first place. But what do I know? I'm just the Pope."
One of the biggest complaints of Administration critics is that the War on Christmas has been so poorly run, ultimately forcing the replacement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "The White House keeps changing their story about why this War began in the first place," screams O'Reilly of Fox. "And that's a fact! First, they said 'Happy Holidays' was about some liberal, bleeding-heart propaganda about good will to all men, celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Then, they said it was to put the X back in Xmas. Now, they say the reason was to find Santa Claus and bring him home safely. They can't figure out which story to tell." And then O'Reilly adds with a smirk, "And they haven't been able to find Santa Claus."
But the bigger problem for O'Reilly is where it all goes from here? "The Bush Administration has no exit strategy. Does it stop at Christmas? Easter? Arbor Day? The Oscars? Will we become so 'Politically Correct' that Americans will be required to celebrate any holiday any way they want? That's un-American, my friend, and that is No Spin." Afterwards, O'Reilly added, "I said, 'Shut up, Pinhead!'" for no known reason.
While the White House was hoping that the recently-released Baker-Hamilton Commission would provide a solution to the War on Christmas, no such answer was forthcoming. The study did note, however, that the President had to change course, because going over the river and through the woods was taking far too long.
At his daily press briefing White House press secretary Snow (who changed his name to honor the war) commented, "I think it's fair to have honest disagreement over the War on Christmas. But the President of the United States simply reserves his Constitutional right to decide what can be considered honest. And it's clear that any disagreement by its very nature is divisive and therefore not honest. Anything further, I can't comment about because this is an ongoing holiday."
Following Snow's statements, a voice in the back of the press room was heard yelling, "Just shut up!"
A leading fake-expert on the history of Christmas, Robert J. Elisberg's new comic novella, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge, has just been published and is available in paperback and ebook edition.