'Tis the season to be politically correct.

I discovered that when the mail came, and I found another Christmas card from yet someone else I had forgotten to send one to: Bill Clinton.I've never received one from the president of the United States before, so I looked it over very carefully.

And I couldn't find the word "Christmas" on it anywhere.

(Well, to be technically accurate, the back did have in teeny-tiny printing the name of the painting on the cover, "Christmas at the White House," by Thomas McKnight - but the title was chosen by McKnight and not the White House).

The inside of the card said, "Our family wishes you and yours a joyful holiday season and a new year blessed with health, happiness, and peace."

Those are nice sentiments, indeed. But they don't mention Christmas - just the "holiday season." After all, it isn't politically correct to possibly leave out anyone who might celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa - or Saturnalia, for that matter.

I looked at the envelope, and the White House postage meter had even stamped, "Holiday Greetings."

Ah, again the politics of being safe - and offending no one by not really honoring anyone either.

I'm not sure such a thing as holiday cards would exist without Christmas. I haven't ever really seen a Hanukkah or Kwanzaa card (although now I write this, someone will probably send me one). Even if they exist, it is probably only in response to Christmas cards.

So why should Clinton be afraid to take the bold step and say, "Merry Christmas?" Such wording hasn't hurt Santa Claus in the polls. And Clinton is a Baptist, and Baptists do celebrate Christmas in this "holiday season."

If this administration had been in charge of designing the current U.S. coins, instead of saying "In God We Trust," they'd maybe just say, "Trust us."

Maybe Clinton did take a daring step, however, by having a Christmas tree in the center of the painting on the cover. It even has a star on top (and a saxophone beneath among the presents).

But a Christmas tree isn't the most religious of all symbols during this season either - although the star could be.

The painting also shows an open book on a chair, beneath which Socks the cat is resting. But exactly what the book is remains unclear. Religious people could envision it to be the Bible or other scripture. Others may envision something else.

Again, no one is offended.

The title in gold lettering beneath the painting doesn't use McKnight's title (remember, "Christmas at the White House"). Instead, it says, "The White House Red Room 1994." And Socks is the only member of the first family actually in the painting with the Christmas, er, holiday tree.

The political correctness doesn't stop there. A stamp on the back advises that the card was printed on recycled paper. Good, I'd hate to think a tree died (besides the Christmas, er, holiday tree painted on the cover) for the card.

Even the way the card was signed seems politically correct. It is signed separately by "Bill Clinton" and "Hillary Rodham Clinton."

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Why not "Bill and Hillary Clinton," or other more friendly variations like "Bill and Hillary," the "Clintons" or "Bill, Hillary, Chelsea and Socks?" Of course, they all could make feminists wonder if Mrs. Clinton is going soft by leaving out the "Rodham."

I've probably seriously jeopardized my chance of ever receiving another White House Christmas, er, holiday card by writing this.

So, I'll take the plunge further and probably ruin any political future I had too by violating political orthodoxy to say formally: "Thanks, Mr. President, for the card. And Merry Christmas."

And Merry Christmas to you too.

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