Jon Sanders

This past Sunday, the president did something he hasn't done since Easter: take his family to church. News media viewed the act as permanently answering mean Texas Gov. Rick Perry's accusation (made just last week, coincidentally) that Pres. Obama was waging "war on religion."

Poor Perry, of course, had made another Cowboy Rookie mistake, this time assuming that media rules for a politician's religion were no respecters of party affiliation. No doubt Perry could learn from Brent Bozell's bible on the subject.

Let that debate carry on elsewhere, however. The president also spoke upon the meaning of Christmas, and his remarks are instructive -- all the more so if one considers them in light of his campaign efforts to recapture alienated Christians without disgusting the other elements of his coalition:

This is the season to celebrate the story of how, more than two thousand years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among cattle and sheep. He was no ordinary child. He was the manifestation of God’s love. And every year we celebrate His birth because the story of Jesus Christ changed the world. For me, and for millions of Americans, His story has filled our hearts and inspired our lives. It moves us to love one another; to help and serve those less fortunate; to forgive; to draw close to our families; to be grateful for all that has been given to us; to keep faith; and to hold on to an enduring hope in humanity.

Service to others. Compassion to all. Treating others as we wish ourselves to be treated. Those values aren’t just at the center of Christianity; those are values that are shared by all faiths. So tonight let us all rededicate ourselves to each other. And, in that spirit, from my family to yours, happy holidays. Merry Christmas. God bless you all, and God bless the United States of America.

Even for a man singularly gifted in the art of speaking a glorious nothing, these comments are remarkably bland. Obama makes sounds like Christmas sentiment that are somehow wrung completely free of it. His proclamation is thoroughly void of any wonder and joy of Christmas. Hark, the herald Barack interpolated. Yawn to the world. Let earth receive a thing.

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.