Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Should I Say to the President?

I was hoping this might come through--an invitation to the White House! THAT White House, the one soon to be occupied by Barack and Michelle.

The Bushes are hosting a Chanuka party next week, and I'll be there, with my son as my escort (my husband being busy on book tour).

This is not the first time President and Laura have invited me--two years ago my husband and I excitedly attended the Chanuka festivities, an evening that now in my mind is the kind of twinkly blur that children carry of the glint of glass balls and sparkle of tinsel that comprises the essence of December magic.

Last time, however, I made a couple of mistakes. Firstly, I decided to take the advice of my fashion-forward teen daughter and borrow her very high-heeled shoes. Little did I know the amount of walking one needs to do from the security checkpoint up the long drive to the imposing columned porch, down the receiving hallway and into the inner sanctum of the living quarters. I was not only wobbling, but shortly, limping, the ill-fitting pumps slipping off my heels. I was in pain while being serenaded by a military orchestra, and tottering between room-length buffets of kosher delicacies, the likes of which I'd never fathomed, despite years of Passover resort getaways. (Most vivid in my mind were the tables of pastries so intricately assembled, petits-four drawn with Stars of David or dreidls or other mini-artworks, swirled with chocolate or raspberry or whipped cream so sculpted you'd think it had to be fake.)

My second mistake was in thinking that security would surely prohibit visitors from bringing in their cameras--so I left mine in my hotel. Wrong, wrong, wrong. While other guests were happily snapping photographic remembrances of each heirloom ornament and thrilling encounter with friends and dignitaries, I internally fumed, mentally kicking myself with pointed, painful stiletto at every glimpse of another once-in-a-lifetime-seen artifact, or introduction to someone I'd previously only read about in the newspaper.

Each couple or guest could line up for a photo with the President and First Lady, and the preceding moments allowed a personal greeting and a few exchanged words with the POTUS. Such an opportunity! As I stood in queue, inching forward, adrenaline rising, I kept revising what I would say. "Thank you for all you do for Israel and the Jewish people" was far too unoriginal. "We appreciate you," way too obvious. When it was finally my turn, Mr. Bush took my hand, I looked him in the eye and...what did I say? "Please come to us for Shabbat! We'd be honored if you and Mrs. Bush would come to our home for a Sabbath meal."

I instantly felt very stupid.

To my relief, he not only smiled, but said yes, he'd like to do that. Perhaps when he's got more free time, after January 20, he'll fulfill that acceptance. And now I've got a chance not only to remind him, but to schedule it.

Um, probably not. However, I better start planning what I'm going to say when I see President and Mrs. Bush at the Chanuka party, right now. Any suggestions?


  1. Thank him for doing the single most important thing:

    Thank him for keeping us safe from terrorists (as in no attacks since 9-11) and for fighting terror despite the opposition.


  2. Ooo, cool...

    Tell him thank you from those who best understand and support his approach to fighting terror around the world.

    And invite him again for the next time he comes up to the great Northwest, ya never know... :)

  3. Ask him if he's going to become Catholic like Tony Blair did after he left office. He won't expect that at a Chanuka party!

    But you might ask him a commiserating question about teens and learning to drive or something.

  4. I know!! Ask him if he'd chest bump you!

    Danny: I dare you. Strike that. I double-dog dare you.

  5. Last night my husband and I had the pleasure of attending your Favorite Radio Host's book talk in SNOWY (!) Houston, TX. Of course it was an enlightening and inspiring evening. Among the many thought-provoking comments offered by your traveling spouse was one that relates to this posting: the word Chanuka means "dedication". Maybe you could thank President Bush for his dedication to the preservation of our freedom and that of our allies. Just as that first Chanuka signified the re-dedication of the Temple, He should re-dedicate himself to the pursuit of his many ideals when he once again becomes a "private" citizen.

  6. Wow, such great suggestions. Ruth Anne, I'll pass along your double-dog dare to my son.

    I do feel grateful that we've been safe these past 7 years, so that's definitely in the running.

    The idea of relating "dedication" of Chanuka to the President's dedication (despite being constantly bashed) is an idea...I have always felt he was a "lev tahor," one whose heart is pure and true to his relationship with God.

    I'm still undecided, though...more of your thoughts wanted!