The White House Ornament That Almost Was…

2 12 2008


I really never anticipated writing more than one post about Christmas ornaments, but this one is hard to resist.

From the Washington Post:

Laura Bush asked members of Congress to pick local painters to decorate ornaments for this year’s 20-foot Fraser fir in the Blue Room. The globes (to be unveiled by the first lady tomorrow) are supposed to showcase something special about each congressional district. Washington state’s Rep. Jim McDermott contacted a local arts organization, which asked Lawrence, a collage artist, to create the local entry.

“I was at first nauseated, then realized it was an opportunity,” said Lawrence, 55, who frequently combines politics and satire in her work and saw this as the perfect way “to highlight Jim McDermott because he’s a hero of mine.”

The nine-inch ball is covered with swirly red and white stripes — and, in tiny glued-on text, salutes the Democratic congressman’s support for a resolution to impeach President Bush. (Also showcased: Washington state’s 1919 labor strike, its suffrage movement and the violent anti-World Trade Organization riots of 1999.) Lawrence sent it off to D.C. in September and was very surprised it was accepted for the tree — and that she was invited to this afternoon’s White House reception for the artists, which she flew to D.C. to attend.

“Apparently, they didn’t read it — or Laura Bush is more progressive than I believed,” Lawrence told us.

How I wish I could tell you that the story ended there.  But, alas, when our sneaky artist filled some friends in on the hidden message in the ornament, the news spread like wildfire, and found its way to the White House and the ear of the First Lady.  The ornament will not hang on the tree after all.

“Oh, dear,” said Seattle-based artist Deborah Lawrence, who created the red and white ornament that salutes Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) and his support for a resolution to impeach the president. “This doesn’t really surprise me. But it’s disappointing that I won’t get to see it on the tree.”

Lawrence did attend the artists’ reception, but did not get to meet the hostess.  I wonder if somebody slipped one of those “Thanks, Santa” Obama ornaments in there.  I think I would have had to…