THE BLOG
12/06/2009 06:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Obama to Let Congress Decide If White House Card Should Say "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas"

Determined to avoid mistakes made by previous administrations, Obama announced on Friday that he'd let Congress be responsible for the language used on the White House's annual holiday card.

"War on Christmas reform is one of the most important issues facing our nation today," said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "Should the president send out a card that says 'Merry Christmas?' Should it say 'Happy Holidays?' Does using an image of Frosty the Snowman on the cover become more inclusive if Frosty's wearing a colorful Kwanzaa vest and lighting a Menorah? These are all important questions for Congress to consider," said Gibbs.

By allowing Congress to take the lead, the administration hopes to find a bipartisan solution to the holiday card debate as well as other key war on Christmas controversies like whether to shop at The Gap or Wal-Mart. The controversy resurfaced last week when Bill O'Reilly exposed an elementary school superintendent who was trying to ruin Christmas by banning candy canes.

"Should Michelle and I boycott a store if a display sign says 'happy holidays'?" asked Obama this week on Meet the Press. "Congress needs to be part of this debate," said Obama. "I'm not going to use the bully pulpit when deciding where to buy my Zhu Zhu pets for my daughters."

Critics of the president have accused him of being indecisive.

"He's dithering," said former Vice President Dick Cheney on Face the Nation. "This is just another instance of Obama refusing to show leadership. He needs to do what it takes to win the war on Christmas," said Cheney.

Though the war on Christmas debate is far-reaching, the public's attention has culminated around the White House card controversy. Fox News commentator Glenn Beck alleged that Obama is "passing the buck" about the card for religious reasons.

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"Wake up people, he's a Muslim," said Beck on Fox News, adorned in a hand-knit sweater with a large Santa stitched into its front (pictured above).

"I don't even know if they have Christmas in Kenya," said Beck. "If Obama had his way, the White House card would read 'Happy Ramadan' and feature a picture of Santa driving a sleigh strapped with explosives."

At a rare weekend caucus gathering, Obama visited Capitol Hill hoping to bring leadership to the debate. But by Sunday it was clear that finding agreement on the card and other war on Christmas resolutions was going to be an uphill battle.

"I will filibuster any decisions made by Congress that include public funding of a holiday card, regardless of its contents," said Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

"Hallmark cards are often several dollars a piece and recklessly sending them out will add tremendously to our national debt," said Lieberman.

Taking an even harder stance, Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan threatened to introduce an amendment that would prevent the public funding of fonts on the card that are in colors other than the traditional Christmas colors of red and green.

Meanwhile, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma argued that adhering to a traditional Christian theme is essential to the integrity of the White House's holiday card.

"I want to see a picture of baby Jesus in the manger on the thing," said Coburn. "And can we get some silver glitter and sprinkles while we're at it?"

Though many key aspects still need to be resolved, the president is hopeful that the current gridlock over the card and other war on Christmas issues will be overcome, even if Congress needs to remain is session through the Christmas holiday to get it done.

Obama says that he has "full confidence that bipartisan compromise will be achieved" and that the card will be sent out no later than 2013.

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