Claim: List details a “trifecta” of firsts related to President Obama.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, January 2010]
President Obama just completed the UNHOLY and ANTI-AMERICAN TRIFECTA:
1st president in 110 years to miss the annual Army-Navy Football Game.
1st president to not attend any Christmas religious observance.
1st president to stay on vacation after a terrorist attack.
Origins: The above-cited list of three “unholy” and “anti-American” firsts supposedly achieved by President Barack Obama began circulating in
The rivalry between the Army and Navy football teams is one that has endured for over a century, with the teams annually facing off on the gridiron in a contest that bears the nickname of the “President’s Game.” In 1901 Theodore Roosevelt became the first
The statement above, which claims that President Barack Obama was “the
The Christian Post did report that a trip to church was “missing from the president’s schedule” during President Obama’s holiday vacation in Hawaii at Christmastime 2009. However, he was far from the first president for whom that was the case. Accurately determining who was the very first president “to not attend any Christmas religious observance” would probably be an impossible task since detailed, day-to-day accounts of every president’s activities throughout the
- In 1972, President Richard Nixon passed the Christmas holiday season with a week-long stay at the “Florida White House” (a property in Key Biscayne which he owned and visited frequently), during which the press reported that he “did not attend church services” and that “a single night out with
Mrs. Nixonand a neighbor, C. G. ‘Bebe’Rebozo, was the President’s only public appearance.”
- In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson (who was recovering from the flu) spent a “quiet and nostalgic Christmas with relatives and friends” at home, with the press noting that although the President was a “devoted ecumenical church goer,” he nonetheless “skipped church services” and did not venture outside the White House.
- In 1929 (just after a fire had damaged the interior of the White House executive offices), President Herbert Hoover spent “Christmas at home with friends,” with press accounts stating that the President and Mrs. Hoover “did not attend church, as their own church did not hold services.”
- In 1914 (as the “shadow of the European war darkened the celebration of the day”), President Woodrow Wilson distributed presents to his grandniece and Treasury secretary William McAdoo’s daughter and hosted a Christmas party at the White House, but the press observed that “the President did not attend church services today, although other members of the White House circle did.”
- In 1905, according to an Associated Press account, President Theodore Roosevelt appeared at his office on Christmas Day “just long enough to dispose of a few matters of importance that required his attention” but “did not attend church service,” instead spending the day at the White House with “his family and intimate personal friends” and hosting a family dinner.
On Christmas Day 2009, a Nigerian man claimed to have ties to
In a broader sense, though, for U.S. presidents of the modern era being “on vacation” generally means that they’re away from the White House but never completely away from the duties of their office. Even though President Obama was in Hawaii rather than Washington when the failed attack occurred, he was nonetheless engaged in
dealing with it, taking part in multiple security briefings about the incident, ordering reviews of airline screening procedures and
In any case, President Obama doesn’t qualify for a first here, either, as the circumstances of
A later variant of this piece added a fourth claim to the “trifecta” listed in the original:
Add to that, he’s the first President not to stay in Washington for Christmas for the last 20 years. Past Presidents did not leave Washington for Christmas vacation until after Christmas. This was done so that their staff (Secret Service, Air Force One Crew, Limousine transport, Presidential advancing logistics etc..) could be with their families for Christmas.
This claim is also false. As noted above, in 2001 President
Last updated: 22 January 2010
Beckman, Aldo. “Nixon Intensifies Isolation from Washington Press.” Chicago Tribune. 31 December 1972 (p. 3). Edsall, Thomas B. “Passenger Subdued On Plane; Bomb Fears Prompt Incident Over Atlantic.” The Washington Post. 23 December 2001. Young, Eric. “Obama Returns from Church-Less Christmas Vacation.” The Christian Post. 4 January 2010. Associated Press. “Christmas at the Capital.” Los Angeles Times. 26 December 1905 (p. I1). Associated Press. “After Camp David Christmas, Bush Heads to Texas Ranch.” [Bowling Green] Daily News. 26 December 2001 (p. 7). Chicago Daily Tribune. “Hoover Counts Fire Loss and Dines Cabinet.” 26 December 1929 (p. 1). CNN. “First Family Spends Christmas at Camp David.” 22 December 2001. The New York Times. “Quiet Day at Capital.” 26 December 1914 (p. 3). United Press International. “First Family Spends Quiet, Nostalgic Day.” The Hartford Courtant. 26 December 1968 (p. 7).