Last night on his Fox News show, Bill O'Reilly brought out the old chestnut, perfect for the season. Yes, if there's a twinkle in his eyes and a glow to his nose, that can only mean one thing. Ranting about the "War on Christmas" is back! Hey, if it's good for the ratings, I suppose why not? As long as you don't mind demeaning yourself and thinking people, that is.
Well, I figured that if Bill O'Reilly can keep chucking out his golden oldies, so can I.
This is an article I published on the Huffington Post almost seven years ago to the day -- December 12, 2006. In fact, though it wasn't the first piece I wrote from them, it's the article that got me to the Huffington Post.
In January of 2006, I was literally heading out the door to drive to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. And as I picked up my luggage, a thought popped into my head -- what if the War on Christmas was reported on like it was a real war? I started laughing, but knew I couldn't write it at that moment. And I couldn't write it during CES either. And when I got back home, I had to write my long overview of the show, which took another week.
By the time I could sit down and finally write the article and finish it, we were past mid-January. Not only was it too late for anyone to publish the piece, I really didn't know what outlet would? I looked around, but came up empty. I was annoyed, since I liked the article, but it was a man without a country, no where to go. Then another thought popped to mind -- what about this new website I'd heard about, the Huffington Post? I Iooked into them, they seemed interesting, and I gave them a try.
Alas, even back then in their early start-up days, they were slow as anything to respond. I kept following up, relentlessly writing back -- for months. With no answer. Undaunted, I kept trying, as much because I was annoyed at the rudeness and wouldn't give in to that as I was interested now in writing for them. At last, someone replied -- somewhat-apologetically. At this point were were probably in April, a tad late for Christmas (though I supposed I could have rewritten for a War on Easter...), but I still pursued writing for the Huffington Post on general principle, and eventually they accepted me. I didn't get the War on Christmas article posted, of course, but I started writing for them at that point, regardless.
As the next Christmas neared, though, I realized I could post the article for the coming holiday. If only Bill O'Reilly and the far right would again yammer about the War on Christmas, then the story would be timely again. Oh, please, act like foolish bullies again, I thought, as visions of sugar plums danced in my head. And sure as people hate fruitcake, there was Bill O'Reilly outraged at it, at the ridiculously idiotic War on Christmas.
And so, a year late, with a few updated rewrites, I finally posted the column that had gotten me interested in writing for the Huffington Post in the first place.
And so it was, again, as I said, that last night Bill O'Reilly brought out his annual self-serving rant, just as sure as people bring out their Dickens every Christmas Eve.
And so, if he can keep bringing it back, so can I. Harken back to a simpler time, when a simpler man was president, George W. Bush. Here then is that original story, seven years later, still timely...
Fa la la.
War on Christmas Going Well, President Says 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 non-partisan 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!"
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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