Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I've held my fire long enough: It's time to revisit how governors are traversing the minefield that is the Christmas/holiday season. Like last year, I've visited the Web sites of all 50 governors, looking on their main pages and press releases for signs of how the War on Christmas is playing out in the states.
But my most startling discovery is that a cabal of governors, presumably at the behest of department-store co-conspirators, appears to be waging a little-reported War on Thanksgiving.
Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius began the hostilities by announcing the arrival of her Christmas tree November 20, three days before Turkey Day. South Dakota's Mike Rounds held his tree-lighting event the following day, when Rhode Island's Don Carcieri announced his too. None of them put a press release about Thanksgiving on the Web. Other observations:
* As for the War on Christmas, my results were largely unchanged from last year. Fourteen governors mentioned Christmas explicitly on their Web sites, while seven made a generic reference to the holidays without including the Ch-word. The rest, apparently, are grinches. That compares to thirteen for "Christmas" and seven for "holidays" last year.
* The "holiday tree" phenomenon is but one example of why the difference between "Christmas" and "holiday" governors is pretty blurry. For example, Carcieri never calls his trees "Christmas trees," but does mention Santa and Hyde's Christmas Tree Farm. Connecticut's Jodi Rell hosted a "Holiday Open House" that included Christmas trees.
* California's tree is powered by a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell, which Governor Schwarzenegger isn't ashamed to brag about.
* On the sites, governors rarely give any indication that Christmas is a Christian holiday, although Tennessee's Phil Bredesen is an exception. In a press release he states, "In my faith, the lights on the Christmas tree symbolize the light that cut through the darkness on the night when Divinity and man connected."
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.