Are you shocked? I'm not.
It's typical of President Barack Obama's partisan critics to attack this administration for a wide array of reasons -- from policy disagreements to political appointments -- but criticism of the White House Hanukkah party is beyond unreasonable; it's absurd.
First, as the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) has stated before, "Heaven help us if we really begin to act as if party invitations are what our community is all about:"
Jewish Americans have a lot of important fish to fry in Washington. In case the Chanukah grousers have forgotten, we are in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; many people are suffering. Shame, if not morality, should drive members of our community to think twice before complaining about too few invitations to a holiday party at the White House.
Second, and most astonishingly, Jewish Republicans were completely wrong when they complained that "[o]fficials in the Obama administration have decided that they will be cutting the guest list in half for this year's Hanukkah party at the White House." In reality, "there were 520 invites to the White House Hanukkah party in 2008," according to Lynn Sweet of Politics Daily:
The White House told me 550 guests are invited this year. During the Bush years, there were 265 invitees in 2001; 373 in 2002; 500 in 2003; 387 in 2004; 427 in 2005; 477 in 2006; 584 in 2007; and 520 in 2008.
I've seen a few reports that the Obama White House cut back its list from 800 guests; that's just a bubbe meise, a good Yiddish phrase that means, roughly, "old wives' tale." (In more modern times, it might be used to describe an urban legend.)
The GOP really made an issue out of what turned out to be a difference of 64 people from Bush's 2007 high! Where were this year's critics before the 2008 party?
Regardless of the bluster, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Obama administration for holding the first White House Hanukkah party where the invite list includes all of the Jewish Democrats and Republicans serving in Congress. In the past when these parties were held, most -- if not all -- Jewish Congressional Democrats were not invited. But in the spirit of bipartisanship and inclusiveness, Obama has invited all Jewish Senators and Representatives regardless of party affiliation -- as it should be.
Obama ought to be applauded, not attacked, as he and his administration continue efforts to govern in a bipartisan and inclusive manner; this Hanukkah party is just one positive reflection of this encouraging trend.
And for those of you who want to share Hanukkah greetings with the President and his family -- regardless of party affiliation -- sign onto a Hanukkah card that we'll deliver to the White House tomorrow.
Happy Hanukkah to all -- Democrats and Republicans alike!