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.
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