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Ghost of Hanukkah Past Crashes President Bush's Last Bash

Updated, 1:07 p.m. EDT

Last night's White House Hanukkah party wasn't quite as wild as last week's Christmas party for members of Congress. But there was dancing until 9 p.m. in the White House foyer (by men only), and one famous gentile Bushie made a cameo appearance and became the hit of the party.

That would be Karl Rove, President Bush's former chief political strategist, the ghost of Hanukkah past.

Rove - never one to forget a key constituency - worked the crowd and held court in the East Room next to the all-kosher buffet. Guests lined up to have their photos taken with him, and there were lots of handshakes and hugs, according to regular Sleuth informants.

(About the only thing he didn't do at the party was lead the crowd of assembled machers in harmonizing rounds of "dreidle, dreidle, dreidle.")

The president rushed back Monday from Afghanistan, where he had made a surprise visit that morning to buck up the troops. (He told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that his wife demanded his presence at the holiday party: "After all, I did sneak out of town in the dark of night.")

Also attending the White House Hanukkah party Monday night was Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), one of two Jewish Republican senators. (The other, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, was not there.)

Coleman took a break from the anxiety of awaiting results from the long drawn out recount in his reelection battle against Democratic challenger Al Franken to attend the White House bash. One source tells us Coleman "worked the line of people waiting to have their photos taken with the president like he owned the place."

Other notable Jewish guests for Bush's last ever Hanukkah party included: Attorney General Michael Mukasey the most senior ranking Jew in the Bush administration; U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, the daughter of Holocaust survivors; Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and his wife, Hadassah; Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the only Jewish Republican member of the House; White House chief of staff Josh Bolton; Sam Fox, of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth fame, who became Bush's ambassador to Belgium; and Tom Kahn, the Democratic staff director for the House Budget Committee.

Kahn says the president, despite his jet lag from traveling all the way back from the Middle East, "was in a great mood. Both he and Mrs. Bush were very chipper."

Kahn was impressed that Bush spoke Spanish to his wife, who is from the Dominican Republic (and expecting a baby in February).

Besides Rove, another prominent non-Jew who attended the Hanukkah party was Michael Gerson, Bush's former speechwriter and policy adviser who is a self-described evangelical Christian.

For most people at the party - a.k.a, Republicans - it was a bittersweet night, their last visit to the White House for at least four more years.

Even if they aren't invited, they hope President-elect Obama will continue the tradition President Bush started by hosting a separate Hanukkah party each year.

And keep it kosher, please.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  December 16, 2008; 12:15 PM ET
 
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Comments

YOU MADE IT SOUND LIKE FUN ---I KNOW PRES. BUSH AND ROVE HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOR.....I THINK ROVE IS MUCH HAPPIER NOT TO HAVE THE HASSLE OF THE POLITICS...AND HAVING A LIFE AGAIN.....('WORKING THE ROOM'STATEMENT) AND (THE ONE HINTED REMARK ABOUT COLEMAN) COULD HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT...AFTER ALL, IT WAS A CHRISTMAS PARTY. (HE COULD BE INNOCENT) THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE ON THE 'FAR' SIDE OF THE LAW RIGHT NOW IN GOVERNMENT AND FAR FROM BEING 'ALL' REPUBLICANS......
THANKS FOR A HAPPY FACE PUT ON A NOT SO HAPPY TIME IN OUR HISTORY......MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH........

Posted by: myworld | December 17, 2008 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Sounds like a real group of Scumbags having a last hurrah over their collective destruction of the U.S. Constitution celebrating their absolutist religious nonsense in the White House !
The situation we are in now is a direct result of ignoring the separation of church and state by these ignoble Scumbags now ensconced in the White House. We are fortunate that that crap is now coming to an end. It is hopeful now, at least, that this sort of religious based gala by crooks will not be recurring in the White House any time soon !

Posted by: donald_mcmunn | December 17, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Hey McMunn, in the Spirit of the season your critique could have used some polish. I do not cotton to the Rovian style any more than you do, but hey why don't we all try to follow our leader in being pacific and tolerant. We do have the upper hand now. And probably will for at least 8 years!! And that is the best revenge of all.
Happy Happy!!!

Posted by: cbarton1 | December 18, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

myworld -- I hope you were being sarcastic in your assessment that Rove is now retired and kicking back.

Rove is in the THICK of GOP/RNC nasty rumor-mongering about Obama, trying to tie him to Blagojevich. Rove is constantly on Fox TV, pontificating and giving advice.
Yah, right, like we need advice from the leader of divisiveness, racism and hate-mongering.

I one of many who wish Rove were retired permanently from ANY involvement in politics. However, the desperate Right still uses him ($$) to do their dirty deeds. Rove is a shameful man who might still go to jail...unless Dubya gives him a "get out of jail free" card. Watch for that to happen so Rove's dirty little secrets aren't revealed to the public. He has MUCH to hide.

Posted by: bweyand1 | December 22, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see Bush boy still respects our cherished separation of church and state.

Posted by: grannyone1 | December 23, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

To McMunn and grannyone: There is no contradiction between the separation of church and state, and the President having a party, while respecting his guests' dietary requirements. Hannuka is not a religious festival, and is no more a contravention than the President lighting the White House Christmas tree, or inviting guests to celebrate Kwansa. Where is your Christmas spirit?

Posted by: williambilekmd | December 23, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

This is probably Coleman and Lieberman's last invitation to a Hanukkah party at the White House so they just had to show up and eat the kosher food, Spector was smart not to come at all. Can't imagine why Rove came at all, is he Jewish? Since this is a secular holiday, no need to worry about the separation of state and church. Tell me what kind of circle dance did th men do, was it the hora, how funny in the White House, I would have loved to see that, the women could have joined in if they chose to.

Posted by: Joyce1 | December 23, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

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