Published December 24, 2009
Critics of President Obama are setting their sights this week on the official White House Christmas tree, which features controversial ornaments including an orb depicting the late Chinese dictator, another that shows drag queen Hedda Lettuce, and yet another that shows a picture of Mount Rushmore -- with Obama's head pasted to the side of Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson and Roosevelt's.
God rest ye, merry gentlemen.
Earlier this month, when the Christmas tree was unveiled, first lady Michelle Obama described how it was decorated in a video posted on the White House Web site:
"Our starting point was a very simple idea," she said. "That we include people in as many places, in as many ways as we can. We took about 800 ornaments left over from the previous administrations. We sent them to 60 local community groups throughout the country and asked them to decorate them, paying tribute to a favorite local landmark, and then send them back to us for display here at the White House.
"… in the new year, we all intend to renew this effort and continue this kind of outreach, so that everyone feels like they have a place here at the White House."
The 18-and-a-half-foot Douglas Fir tree was also heralded as environmentally friendly: In addition to using recycled ornaments, it uses energy-saving LED lights and an organic tree skirt.
It all sounded as cozy as chestnuts roasting on an open fire until some of the ornaments caught the eye of conservative bloggers.
Noting some of the tree's more provocative baubles, Mike Flynn, editor of BigGovernment.com, which first broke news of the controversial ornaments: "Can we have one aspect of this White House that isn't trying to make a political statement?"
Added Azaria Jagger, a blogger at the news and gossip site "Gawker":
"[D]oes it really make sense to put a tyrannical communist leader's visage on the American president's Christmas tree? On the other hand, an ornament that shellacks [Obama's] face onto Mount Rushmore is just tacky. It's in the guy's living room, for crying out loud."
But not everyone is flabbergasted. Watchdog group Media Matters went on the counterattack, calling the controversy "the right-wing's White House Christmas tree freak-out."
And drag queen Hedda Lettuce chimed in that she is proud to have her portrait hanging in the White House, even if it's just temporary:
"A month ago I was doing some volunteer work with SAGE, at the Gay Community Center in NYC," she posted on her blog. "SAGE is an organization that helps elder gay people by providing them social activities and a community space to hang out with their peers. It was a festive afternoon, for our task of the day was decorating Christmas ornaments for the Presidential tree in the White House. As it turns out, the White House sends ornaments to various organizations, the job is to make them dazzle in hopes that they will be proudly displayed at the big white mansion in our nations capital....
"I may never get equal rights, I may never be blond and pencil thin, I may never see Lady Gaga in concert this winter at Madison Square Garden (I could not get a ticket) but one of my balls is hanging in the White House with my name for all to see."
Designer Simon Doonan, who was in charge of organizing Christmas decorations at the White House, did not respond to calls for comment. Neither did the White House.