Monday, January 23, 2006


The White House is rushing to call the pictures of Jack Abramoff and President Bush a “coincidence”, almost as though Bush was on the White House lawn and Jack was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.
What these really sound like, for the most part, are posed pictures available to hefty donors, and that’s always bothered me. I became suspicious of this aspect of the fundraising setup back in the days of the first President Bush. But it's not just the pictures; the whole thing is a racket.
You probably know a campaign fundraising trip has to be paid for by the party, right? So how do they get around that? First, they grab the money and then on the way out of town, they stop at some other location like a school. Suddenly the trip becomes 50% official business.
When the first President Bush stopped at a Portland school on his way to the airport, a young African American kid asked him for his watch and Bush gave it to him. Remember that? That’s when I first learned about funding for these trips. Of course, it was phony(the stopover-not the watch). President Bush would never fly all the way out here to visit that school, so it was a purely cost-cutting measure for his political coffers. No wonder he could afford to give the kid a watch. The kid’s school had saved the Republican party tens of thousands of dollars that would have gone to paying for the trip. Instead the taxpayers picked up the tab.
Okay, the way the actual fundraiser works is that you pay one sum for a seat at a banquet table, but for another much bigger sum you get a picture of yourself with the President. So the leader of the free world is hawking a physical object that is created while he or she is in office, and using the money to get reelected.
Of course, it’s unseemly. The President might as well be selling autographs.
If you want to contribute to a campaign and you want to go hear and see your candidate, that’s fine. But paying the candidate for a picture is a different thing. These are the Presidents of the United States. We already pay them to work for us. We don’t need them running a memorabilia shop on the side.


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