Did Obama Jump the Gun on Rosh Hashana?

Bush was ridiculed for his week-early Jewish greeting.

By + More

By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

You know how Republicans sometimes whine that if President Bush and his aides had taken some of the kinds of moves President Obama and his associates have, the critics would be on the Bushies like white on rice? Well, they might have a good case with Obama's early new years message to Jewish leaders.

Washington Jewish Week and Politico tell us that Obama today reached out to about 1,000 Jewish leaders in his expanding campaign for healthcare reform. One of those on the call, Rabbi Jack Moline, tweeted through the call about what the president said. His Twitter page noted: Obama: "shanah tovah to all of you."

That's a reference to the Jewish new year, or Rosh Hashana, which starts at sundown September 18. It means "Have a sweet new year." An associate said that the president was just being polite with the rabbis, and spokesman Robert Gibbs said that Obama was invited by the rabbis to join in on the call "as they get ready for their important holidays."

But in September 2007, when Bush issued a holiday greeting a week early, he was roundly ridiculed for jumping the gun. The Washington Post said that there was "quizzical reaction" from even Bush's friends.

A former Bushie who remembered the spat said: "Strange. When GWB sent out Rosh Hashana greetings a few days early, he was mocked. Obama is an entire month too early, and no big whoop."

For the record, Bush's was an official statement, while Obama's appears to have been a verbal nicety.

In his tweets, Moline had a few other notes. First, he didn't like the German music as everybody waited for Obama to get on the line. And he mocked Obama's tardiness, tweeting, "Okay—the 11:10 start time has passed. Just like Clinton."

Want your Whispers first? Check out U.S. News Weekly.

View recent political cartoons.

Read more Washington Whispers.