John Kass has a theory about Barack Obama and why everyone likes him. “It’s as if writers are helplessly channeling the brilliant Obama/Daley media crisis manager David Axelrod, who is using secret powers to enter their minds from afar,” writes the Tribune columist.

That could be. I have another theory. Axelrod used to manage the late senator Paul Simon’s campaigns. I think Axelrod has sent Obama Simon’s Christmas card list. I used to get a card every year from the Simons, whom I didn’t know. This year for the first time I got a card — a “Happy Holidays” card — from the Obamas, whom I don’t know.

But their card is a little different. Unless memory fails, Senator Simon didn’t send out cards featuring a family portrait by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. Or if he did, he kept the photo credit to himself. Whereas the Obamas’ card says “Photo by: Annie Leibovitz” on the back, right above “Authorized and paid for by Obama 2010, Inc.” (On Daily Kos right now there’s a discussion about how it measures up to the portraits on Christmas cards from John Edwards and the Clintons.) The photo appears to be an outtake from this shoot for Men’s Vogue, which raised some eyebrows when it accompanied a profile by Jacob Weisberg earlier this year.

It’s one thing to get called out for a tricky little real estate deal with Tony Rezko–at some point Obama was obliged to show he’s a true man of his state and knows his shenanigans as well as the next pol. But a Christmas card by Annie Leibovitz? I wondered if I wasn’t actually looking at a rather crafty dirty trick perpetrated by political enemies conniving to paint him as something of a snob. Surely Obama himself would never announce to every constituent he sends a holiday card to that he’s too good for the hard-working yeoman photographers of Illinois.

Or ıs he runnıng as the junior senator from Vogue? (Who, incidentally, figures to run strong in the neighboring state of Vanity Fair?)