Slate examines some of the season's best political holiday cards.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Dec. 23 2009 10:10 AM

God Rest Ye Merry Congressmen

Slate's 2009 political holiday card slide show.

Click to launch a slide show.

As a window into a politician's self-image, it's hard to beat a holiday card.

Some take the staid, no-photo approach: President Obama's 2009 card includes only a presidential seal surrounded by a wreath, and a brief message. For others, it's an opportunity to show off the attractiveness (the Bidens), size (the Huntsmans), or theatricality (the Vitters) of their family. Others get creative: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wrote a hymn. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., followed up previous years' cards—featuring her cat wearing sunglasses or her cat riding a motorcycle—with an image of herself ballroom dancing while her cat looks on. Delegate Madeleine Bordallo of Guam goes for the Murder She Wrote look, while the card of Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., features his two daughters posing in a field of daisies. Some, like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, go for a personal touch with a handwritten note. Others have a whiff of last-minute planning: Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., sent out a lovely card that happens to be available at the Senate gift shop.

Advertisement

The tradition doesn't come cheap. Since 2003, congressional candidates have spent more than $5.3 million on holiday presents, decorations, and events. Sanchez's cards alone totaled more than $914,000 over the last seven years. (Hence the PDF versions she sent out this year.) The good news is, the taxpayer isn't on the hook. All holiday cards are paid for by a member's campaign committee or out of pocket.



Click here to see a slide show of some of 2009's best political holiday cards.

Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 16 2014 12:15 PM “Human Life Is Frightfully Cheap”: A 1900 Petition to Make Lynching a Federal Offense
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.