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The [Thursday] Papers

"When party activists gathered in Chicago to nominate Bill Clinton to a second term in 1996, Mr. Obama was making his first run for political office, but he did not have enough clout to get full access to the convention," the New York Times recalled this week. "Instead, he concluded that high-dollar breakfasts and dinners seemed to lock voters out of the system, grousing to a reporter, 'The convention's for sale, right?'"

Yes. And it still is, even at a convention under his control. Just a few days earlier, the Times reported this:

"When Senator Barack Obama gives his acceptance speech before 70,000 people at Invesco Field on Thursday in Denver, most supporters will be sitting under the open night sky. But a group of lobbyists and corporate executives will watch the event from plush skyboxes, with catered food and a flowing bar, and a price tag of up to $1 million.

"And Mr. Obama's biggest fund-raisers will be staying at the Ritz-Carlton, with its 400-thread-count linens, indoor basketball court, lap pool and 6,800-square-foot spa. They will be treated to an array of cocktail parties and receptions in their honor, including one Monday evening with Howard Dean, the party chairman, at the Denver Performing Arts Center, a reception with the vice-presidential nominee on Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center and a celebration with Mr. Obama after his acceptance speech in a club-level lounge at Invesco Field."

So you might say that the party has changed Obama, rather than Obama changing the party. After all, when Mayor Daley is at your side . . .

"In fact, millions of dollars are being spent on entertainment to wine-and-dine specific members of Congress, including Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the House Democratic caucus, and Senator Richard J. Durbin, also of Illinois."

Of course, last night Obama said he scheduled his acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium so the little people could have access. But that's not the real story.

"One of Mr. Obama's boldest moves before his party's convention was to change the location of his acceptance speech from an enclosed area, the Pepsi Center, to an open-air stadium, Invesco Field. The change was to symbolize a new spirit of openness and to allow grass-roots Obama supporters, and not just party regulars, to participate in the event.

"But in addition to the Invesco skyboxes - which are reserved for major donors to the Democratic Party, the Obama campaign and the Denver host committee - other premium seats will be auctioned off by the Obama campaign to donors. For a $1,000 donation to the Obama Victory Fund in Colorado, supporters will get a 'club level' seat, which has easy access to restaurants, bars and lounges, along with an invitation to a postspeech reception.

"In addition, members of the Obama National Finance Committee who met their commitment of raising at least $250,000 for the campaign have been assured of getting premium seats and passes to the convention itself, even if they are not delegates."

See, it turns out that money matters more than ever in the Obama campaign.

"Credentials are being distributed to top Obama fund-raisers every morning, with the level of access and the number of credentials available depending on how much they have raised. Special lounges will be available at the Pepsi Center for major donors. Some will get the prized podium passes that will allow them to mingle with politicians backstage. National finance committee members have also been assured of premium seats at Invesco Field for Mr. Obama's speech."

All the grassroots gets are 3 a.m. text messages.

*

And Democrats undoubtedly ready to criticize the corporate presence at next week's Republican convention should take note:

"Jennifer Backus, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said Mr. Obama would allocate his skyboxes to "staff, supporters, family members and friends." Among those getting skyboxes are Qwest, Comcast, Xcel Energy and Tom Golisano, the New York Republican who recently gave $1 million to the Denver host committee.

"Invesco skyboxes come with catered food, an open bar and big-screen televisions. Those with access also avoid standing in the general security lines, since there is a separate entrance with a private elevator to whisk them to the skybox level."

At least the Republicans don't pretend to be a party of the people.

"Corporations and other donors are being solicited to buy 'sponsorship packages' for events costing $25,000 to $50,000 and honoring the New Democrat Coalition, a group of moderate Democrats.

"Donors to the New Democrat event will get V.I.P. tickets and access to the exclusive area, with amenities, for a party at Union Station, a Rockies game at Coors Field and a jazz brunch at 'an incredible private residence' in Denver, according to the invitation.

"Visa and U.S. Bank are also sponsoring a reception honoring the freshman Congressional class."

Natch.

God's Will
"He'll win if it's meant to be,'' Michelle Obama told NBC News.

Just like George W. Bush was meant to be?

Like Father, Like Nominee
"Sen. Barack Obama sought more than $3.4 million in congressional earmarks for clients of the lobbyist son of his Democratic running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, records show. Obama succeeded in getting $192,000 for one of the clients, St. Xavier University in suburban Chicago," the Washington Post reports.

"One of those clients was St. Xavier University, a four-year, 5,600-student institution run by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Mercy in Orland Park, Ill. Steve Murphy, vice president for university advancement, said Hunter Biden approached him in 2005 offering to secure congressional earmarks.

"Hunter Biden and his colleague, Eric Schwerin, told Murphy they were working with a number of clients, institutions like yours, and we would like to help you identify earmarks, federal support and grants.'

"Murphy said he found Biden's parentage a selling point. Murphy then accompanied Biden to the offices of the Illinois delegation, including Obama's."

---

"[Biden] was a crucial supporter of the law in that he paved the way for other Democrats to support it," said Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Foundation of America, a consumer group that opposed the bill. "Senator Biden provided a lot of political cover for the credit card industry because they wanted to show that the proposal had bipartisan support. He aggressively undermined the opposition to the bill."

Joe Biden, working-class hero.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Something to be.



Permalink

Posted on August 28, 2008


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