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A Tale Of Two Presidents’ Holiday Messages

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump posted his Thanksgiving message to Twitter Thursday morning. It was a photo of the President and First Lady earlier in the week, pardoning the turkeys in front of an audience in the Rose Garden of the White House.

“Melania and I wish all Americans a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!” in a graphic. “HAPPY THANKSGIVING!” in all-caps was the text of the tweet.

The President also very intentionally injected a note of religious importance into his message: “a very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!”

Meanwhile, also on Thursday morning, former President Barack Obama sent the nation a Thanksgiving message, far different from the Oval Office’s current occupant.

It includes a photo of the Obama family helping to feed the needy and the homeless on the day before Thanksgiving, 2014.

The message: “Today, we give thanks for our blessings, give back to those around us, and enjoy some time — and turkey, and maybe a little football — with the ones we love. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.”

It’s a much more active message, inspiring participation and the giving of thanks. He is leading by example. The message is one of service to others, an embrace of diversity, and caring for all, especially those in need.

The caption from the White House’s page for that photo reads: “Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the First Family continued their annual tradition by participating in a service project. This year’s project was at Bread for the City — a Southeast Washington, D.C. charity dedicated to providing Washington’s most vulnerable residents with food, clothing, and other services.”

And while Obama used the word “blessings,” it is far more secular, as in something to be grateful for, as opposed to a “blessed Thanksgiving,” which is more religious and more passive.

Dressed in a sweater, President Obama is shaking the hand of a young girl.

Dressed in a suit and coat, President Trump is separated from the people, by the trappings of the presidency.

President Obama signs his message, “From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.”

President Trump signs his message, “President Donald J. Trump.” The presidential seal is lightly watermarked on the tweet.

The response to their messages is also of note.

As of this writing President Trump’s tweet has nearly 75,000 likes and 13,900 retweets.

President Obama’s tweet has nearly 153,000 likes and 17,600 retweets.

Why We’re Still Thankful

Americans can be excused for feeling something less than thankful for the ongoing depredations of Washington’s ruling regime. Every day for more than three years, we have awakened to the nightmare of a president and his entourage gnawing away at constitutional government like demented termites, seemingly determined to advance the objectives of foreign adversaries and keen to divide us from one another. Every day we see how the rot that this president represents has ruined not just the White House and his administration but the Republican Party, whose leading figures have fully capitulated to his fantastic lies, his corrupt betrayals and his criminal misconduct. And every day, he damages our prestige and our prospects.

We will be profoundly thankful when all that finally ends, with the same sense of relief that led three of our greatest presidents — George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt — to proclaim and renew Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

And yet, even amid the divisive impeachment that President Donald Trump made inevitable, there are reasons for us to feel grateful as Americans. Perhaps the most important is that we still live in a country where patriotic citizens step up to not only serve but also defend the Constitution and the rule of law against those in authority. The very highest of American ideals still motivate strong, smart, talented people to devote their lives to public service, even when that devotion requires them to jeopardize their own security. We are blessed to live in a country where virtue thrives, raising up remarkable citizens here and attracting many more who share our values.

So today, let’s appreciate the likes of George Kent, descended from a distinguished military family with service in both the Army and Navy; and William Taylor, who graduated at the top of his West Point class, left the military in disillusionment over Vietnam and has spent the decades since ably representing our country. Taylor returned to service despite grave doubts about Trump. Both he and Kent stood up for truth when they saw their worst concerns confirmed.

Let’s not forget to afford the same recognition to Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador repaid for 33 years of public service with a campaign of smears and falsehoods invented by the president’s creepy cronies. She stood up, too, despite those gross assaults and even death threats, not as a partisan but as an American.

We should acknowledge Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, whose decision to speak out against wrongdoing in the White House has provoked public vilification from Republican officials and ugly threats by their thuggish supporters. And we should toast David Holmes, a rising diplomat who endangered his future with his honest testimony about what he heard the president say over Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s cellphone.

We should tip our hats to Richard Spencer, the ex-Marine forced to resign as Navy secretary, and the many flag officers who have voiced their opposition to Trump’s encouragement of war crimes and military misconduct by his misuse of the pardon power. Our adversaries rejoice whenever we violate that legacy, which may well be why Trump does so eagerly and repeatedly. We’re indebted to the many men and women in uniform who sustain the legacy of honor that dates back to the Revolution, when George Washington refused to mimic the barbarism of the redcoats and punished any officer who did.

It is easy to swear an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution, as every politician is required to do. In dangerous times such as these, when the highest officials brazenly claim tyrannical authority and serve the interests of a hostile power, it can be difficult and very costly to uphold that declaration. We should be thankful indeed for those who fearlessly do so.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Trump Denounces Non-Existent ‘War On Thanksgiving’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump put on his Commander-in-Chief hat Tuesday night and declared war on the war on Thanksgiving. The only problem is, just like his top advisor Kellyanne Conway’s made up “Bowling Green Massacre” there is no war on Thanksgiving.

“As we gather together for Thanksgiving, you know, some people want to change the name ‘Thanksgiving,’” Trump told supporters at a fake “homecoming” rally in Florida Tuesday night. “They don’t want to use the term ‘Thanksgiving.’ And that was true also with Christmas. But now everybody’s using Christmas again. Remember this?”

“But now we’re going to have to do a little work on Thanksgiving,” Trump claimed. “People have different ideas. Why it shouldn’t be called Thanksgiving. But everybody in this room, I know, loves the name Thanksgiving. And we’re not changing.”

There was also no War on Christmas, and Trump did nothing to end it because it did not exist.

Fox News played along, reporting: “Trump vows not to change the name of Thanksgiving despite cries from the ‘radical left’.”

And some on Twitter played the president, uniting under the sarcastic hashtag #whatliberalscallthanksgiving. Take a look:

Hope Starts With Christmas

The day after Thanksgiving is usually when I begin decorating for Christmas, but on November 25, I turned to my husband on the verge of despair.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t think I have it in me.”

The sound of those words, in my voice, was enough to startle me out of my funk. This may feel like the season of triage, but we are better than our worst fears. Character is revealed not by who we are when things are going our way but in the people we become when everything seems to be going wrong. Never have I been more worried about the future of our country, but I’m no quitter.

For me, hope starts with Christmas.

I traipsed down the basement stairs and opened the holiday storage bins to drag up everything — and I mean everything — with the help of my husband. I could tell by the look on his face that he was a little surprised by my request after I’d just told him I was in no mood, but he’s been married to me long enough to trust the conclusion, no matter how I get there.

A partial list of the holiday haul:

—The fake Christmas trees, plural. The one in the front window holds all the White House Historical Association ornaments. The larger one, in the family room, is laden with decades’ worth of handmade ornaments. It looks ridiculous, and I love it.

—The front-door wreath, which requires my weight in D batteries to twinkle. Leave it there.

—The small wooden crèche from my childhood, boxed with the elves wearing striped pajamas and smiles of hysteria on their plastic faces. The elves originally arrived at our home in the 1960s, wrapped around bottles of dishwashing detergent. I keep thinking it was lemon fresh Joy because that’s what Mom often used, but maybe I just like saying lemon fresh Joy. Anyway, Mom soon promoted the elves to stand sentry next to baby Jesus in the made-in-Italy Nativity scene that rested on top of our TV console.

Only once did I ever suggest to Mom that elves were not in attendance at the birth of Jesus. “Oh, really,” she said as she looped the elves’ arms and sat them cross-legged next to the three wise men. “And you were there, were you?” How does an 8-year-old argue with that?

—The crayon-colored cardboard Santa I made in first grade. His arms and legs are connected to a string that dangles between his legs. Pull it and he appears to be dancing, if by “dancing” we mean what happens after Santa has consumed a half-dozen boilermakers.

The stockings to be hung by the chimney with care, especially because the fireplace is electric and has no chimney and is so hot that our dog, Franklin, starts panting whenever he sits in front of it for more than five minutes, which he often does. We try not to think about what that says about his judgment, as he is perfect in every way. We just slide him toward us and say, “Good boy.”

The stockings are the thing right now, because they force me to keep trying.

After every grandchild’s birth, five times now, I pull out the bin of felt and design a stocking just for that child. I have to update the stockings this year. Leo and Jackie now have hair, and Carolyn and Milo are just old enough to notice the felt faces that will return their smiles.

“Look at that,” I said to my husband this week, pointing to the 16 stockings — of course, Franklin has one — dangling from our mantel. “Look at who we’ve become.”

As is the case with most marriages, we started out so much smaller, but love has a way of helping us grow. For a little while, I’m going to focus on that.

Happy holidays, plural, to those who celebrate. To all of you who are struggling this time of year, may the season land gently.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.