Santa Claus Comes to the West Wing with Lame Duck Goodies
1600 Pennsylvania Ave was busy this week; you’d almost think Santa came with his bag full of goodies for the American people. In spite of threats of Republican obstructionism and Democratic betrayal, the President and the legislators managed to make this Christmas one to celebrate for a variety of reasons even as our country struggles under the slow economy and resulting job losses. This was indeed the Lame Duck that roared for the People.
What did Santa bring us? This week, in the days leading up to Christmas, the President signed the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” celebrated the approval of the START treaty, signed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and The Family Violence Prevention Act into law that will give states new tools and provide help for children in at risk children, met with members of the Hispanic caucus about the DREAM act, met with Labor leaders to discuss how to partner with labor to grow the economy, signed the Middle Class Tax Cuts Bill which will extend unemployment benefits and offer payroll tax cuts and finally read to kids for the Holiday Season at Long Branch Elementary in Arlington, VA from his book “Of Thee I Sing” (proceeds of which go to scholarship fund for children of fallen and disabled service members) along with a holiday classic, “It Was the Night Before Christmas”. Phew!
Santa says Yes We Can:
About signing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the President said:
By repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” today, we take a big step toward fostering justice, fairness and consideration, and that real cooperation President Eisenhower spoke of.
This fulfills an important campaign promise the President and I made, and many here on this stage made, and many of you have fought for, for a long time, in repealing a policy that actually weakens our national security, diminished our ability to have military readiness, and violates the fundamental American principle of fairness and equality — that exact same set of principles that brave gay men and women will now be able to openly defend around the world.
About signing the Middle-Class Tax Cuts Bill, the President said:
We were put in office amid the deepest recession this country has seen since the Great Depression. We were put here to protect and — protect and rebuild the middle class. And throughout the process, we’re working with two principles in mind — grow the economy and support working-class families. And that’s what we fought hard to do.
And I stand here today to say, in my view, our fight has paid off. Most economists, many of whom are in this room, will tell you this plan will grow our economy in the next year. And it’s going to help millions of families keep their jobs, if they have one, and keep their unemployment benefits if they don’t, and keep their tax relief, and keep their kids in school as well.
All while keeping our economic recovery moving in the right direction, providing immediate — an immediate economic jolt, and giving more than 150 million Americans help where they need it most, in their paychecks, in their wallets. I believe it was the right thing to do.
And for your holiday cheer, here’s Santa Obama speaking to the children at Long Branch Elementary School:
The President spoke to the kids at Long Branch Elementary:
THE PRESIDENT: Now let me just say one more thing and then maybe we can take a picture together. One of the things about Christmas obviously is getting presents and having stockings full and spending time with your family and eating good stuff. But part of the Christmas spirit is also making sure that we’re kind to each other and we’re thinking about people who aren’t as lucky as we are.
And so I hope that all of you, even as you’re having a lot of fun during the holidays, whether it’s Christmas or Hanukkah, I want to make sure that all of you are also thinking about how can you guys be nicer to each other and think about people who have less than you do, because not everybody is as lucky as we are. There are a lot of kids out there who they may not be able to get a lot of presents for Christmas because their parents don’t have a lot of money.
There are a lot of parents right now who are maybe away from their families. Some of them are in our military and they’re fighting overseas, and so they can’t be home for Christmas or the holidays. So I hope you guys think about them too, all right? And I want you all to remember that the spirit of Christmas is making sure that — not just that you’re getting something from somebody but that you’re also giving back to other people. Does that make sense?
Historically speaking though, modern presidents have had very little to do in the run up to Christmas. In 1996, Bill Clinton used his message to discuss how America needed more in its daily life, “As we gather with family and friends again this year to celebrate Christmas, let us welcome God wholeheartedly into our daily lives. Let us learn to recognize Him not only in the faces of our loved ones, but also in the faces of those who, like Jesus, are familiar with poverty, hardship, and rejection. And let us be inspired by His example to serve one another with generous hearts and open hands. In this way we will approach the dawn of a new century and a new millennium confident in God’s abundant grace and strengthened by His timeless promise of salvation.”
In 1998, Clinton moved on to the age old staple of remembering our soldiers in uniform at Christmas, “And as we approach the feast of light, I’d like also to send a special greeting to all the brave men and women in uniform serving our country in lands far from home. You’re in our thoughts and our prayers.”
Then came George W. Bush who in his special way managed to turn Baby Jesus’ birthday into a message on the war on terror, “On Christmas, we pray for freedom, justice, and peace on Earth. We remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our freedom, and we ask for God’s blessing on their loved ones. We ask God to watch over all of our men and women in uniform. Many are serving in distant lands, helping to advance the cause of freedom and peace. Our entire Nation is grateful to them and prays for their safe return.” The point is that Christmas 2010 is very special.
For all of the acrimony and angst this past year, perhaps Americans were nicer than Santa first thought as our stockings were stuffed with legislation and both chambers worked with our President to make historic this lame duck session. Some healing, some thanks to give, and a grateful nation breathes a sigh of relief before gearing up for what will be a very interesting next session.