$35,800 Blue Plate Special
Presidential Fundraiser 2012
Raises Old Questions
by Dan Ehrlich

You wouldn’t think President Obama’s fundraising visit to Los Angeles would adversely affect people half the world away…but it did.

I was leaving London for a visit with my sister in Los Angeles. This involved the standard last minute rush to Heathrow Airport, the final chance to use my Freedom Pass…. the wondrous free public transportation card we old folk residents are given by the evil socialists in the UK.

My American Airlines flight was at 11 a.m. arriving at L.A. International Airport at around 2:30 p.m. Remember there’s eight-hour time difference. But, while using the automated check in facility I noticed the departure time had been changed to 2 p.m.

Shocked, since someone special was meeting me at the airport, I asked around and was told the flight was delayed. Upon further inquiries, I learned that Obama was arriving at LAX at about the same time as my flight was supposed to arrive.

As is the case in many Banana Republics, when El Presidente flies in the world stops, flights are postponed, the airways are cleared and fighter jets are ready for any emergency.

Luckily there was no emergency for the American President who spoke at a Japanese owned movie studio during a Good Friday $35,800 a plate fundraiser (one hell of a meal). And here I thought paying $25 for a communal Passover Seder in London was a bit much.

Aside from flight delays, the President’s visit caused a few severe traffic problems as roads and freeway ramps were closed for the free passage of the routine presidential motorcade.

As for me back in London, luckily I had my laptop and was able to call the person who was going to meet me, telling her to scrub the mission, while booking an airport shuttle ride to the San Fernando Valley.

No other world leader has so much spent on security as the US President. And no other world leader turns simple drives to a lunch or dinner  venues almost into a triumphal victory parades everywhere he goes…and at the taxpayer’s expense, too.

Ever since the Watergate scandal presidential election campaigns have been increasing in cost, defying all half-heated attempts to regulate campaign spending. The 2007 campaign for the White House alone went over the billion-dollar mark for the first time.

Democratic candidates for president and Congress raised about 50 percent  more than they did in the 2004 election, while Republican fundraising was flat. And that was largely due to the disrepute of the Bush Administration.

For many people, donating to a party or candidate is the main recourse they have of venting their feeling or frustrations. But, unfortunately, the sad fact is our democracy is dying on the vine id you believe in the literal meaning of the term, people power.

Every four years or so we are asked to choose people who will represent us, they’re people most of us will never see or even hear. And they will take actions that may suit an ideology or interest that may offend us…yet we will have no say except to wait another four years and a better candidate.

President Obama spoke at a $35,800 a plate dinner ay Sony Studio's commisary. Cheapskates could skip the lunch and just see him talk later for $2,500. Obama, as with presidents before him, is a public official in a democracy singing for his supper. He’s in fact taking payola. But, that’s what the big bucks nature of  American politics has forced on public officials.

When the President speaks he’s not like former President Bill Clinton on a lecture tour. He’s the people’s servant trying to make money for his re election campaign for which he can’t hit the American taxpayer.

In Britain, as in much of the European Union, there are strict campaign cost limits on elections. And when a general election is called, campaigning lasts one month. Candidates who breach campaign laws may lose their seats and even wind up arrested. Not in America, Any campaign laws we have are readily breached by assorted committees and people.

It’s difficult to imagine spending curbs in America since real campaign finance reform wouldn’t suit the two main parties. It also means the next time I fly to or from LAX, I will make sure there are no presidential visits planned.

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