Example: [Collected via e-mail, January 2010]
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 statement above, which claims that President Barack Obama was "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.
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
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:
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).