Diane Dimond: Liberating the White House from the political money game
By Diane Dimond
Let’s face it. We have too many antiquated laws on the books. Our laws often fail to keep up with the times. I mean, do we really need a statute that prohibits rams from trespassing as they have in New Jersey? Or a law that makes it a crime to carry fruit in an illegally sized container as Minnesota recently struck down?
Nonetheless, I would like to propose a new law that would benefit every man, woman and child in the United States. It has to do with how the top leadership in this country operates.
Let’s adopt a law that prohibits presidents from engaging in overt political fundraising.
Yes, I know an appearance by a president at a fundraising event ensures a seven-figure take for these events. But, how about we leave the begging for political donations to the U.S. senators and congressmen who are already experts at it?
Let’s free up our president to be … well … the leader of all American citizens, not just those who belong to the president’s political party. Let’s emancipate our commander in chief from the mundane election-year hawking for money designed solely to enrich one political party’s coffers.
The end game for the ginned up money, of course, is to eviscerate the opposing party, which only goes to further divide us as a country. If you’ve ever wondered how we, as a nation, got so mired in the us-versus-them mentality we have today, look no further than the smarmy political strategists who spend their days concocting campaigns designed to slime candidates on the other side, everyone who doesn’t think like they do.
As those strategists hope, we the electorate absorb their negative messages and carry them into our everyday relationships. How many times have you heard someone say something like, “I can’t talk to Joe. He’s such a Republican!” If you are one of the rare citizens who truly hasn’t allowed the political spin to infiltrate your daily lives, I congratulate you.
So, let us do all presidents a favor and make it against the law for them to participate in the loathsome game of political fundraising. Let us help elevate presidents above the ugly fray. And while we’re at it, lets extend the political huckstering ban to include their spouses and children, too.
The need for this new legislation came to me in a flash as I was reading about the recent air disaster that took 298 lives in Eastern Europe and the latest war (let’s call it what it is) in the Middle East.
Buried within newspaper stories were sentences like this one in the New York Times: “As smoke billowed from the downed Malaysian jetliner in the fields of eastern Ukraine, President Obama pressed ahead with his schedule: A cheeseburger with fries at the Charcoal Pit in Delaware … and two splashy fundraisers in New York City.”
At the very time initial dispatches reported there were 23 Americans aboard that downed Malaysian passenger jet (the number was later reduced to 1), the president was belly-up to the counter of that burger joint, which is framed by a cartoon figure on the wall eating a burger three times the size of its head.
The White House communications director, Jennifer Palmieri, was asked if there had been any thought given to canceling the day’s activities given the grim world events. Her bizarre answer as the president headed toward those two glitzy fundraisers in Manhattan?
“Abrupt changes to his schedule can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis,” Palmieri said in a prepared statement.
Now look, I don’t begrudge any leader of the free world some down time or a yummy burger with fries. (Although, I do wonder what Mrs. Obama thinks about her husband’s dietary choices.) But I take umbrage with a White House staffer thinking we are so mentally fragile as a people that we would be “unduly alarmed” at a president who returned to Washington to take care of business. Does she think the citizens of America are stupid?
Whether there is an international crisis or a humanitarian crisis on our own border to attend to, the president must set his own management style. I understand that. If he wants to handle pressing events while out in the field instead of in the oval office, that’s his decision. What I find disgraceful is the offensive image of an American president gallivanting around the country on Air Force One with his expensive, taxpayer-funded entourage hawking for money for his own particular ideology. That’s not leadership; that’s pure unadulterated politics.
Even the White House communications director knows this, which is why cameras are rarely allowed in to film one of these presidential fundraising events.
This is not a partisan gripe. I didn’t like it when Presidents Carter, Regan, Bush, Clinton or G.W. Bush hit the mega-money-making fundraising trail either. It diminishes the office of the president to place our top elected official — the leader of the free world — on the podium next to big-money wheelers and dealers. It embarrasses me. It should embarrass our presidents, too.
So, the question: Which political party has enough guts, enough pride in the office of the presidency, to take a bold move toward removing the leader of the free world from the unseemly position of being the big-ticket draw to milk the most lucrative cash cows?
I am an enthusiastic voter, and I would be attracted to the party that sponsors such a bill. I bet other voters might very well see the party that backs such legislation as truly focused on America’s best interest instead of how much money they can raise to taint the opposition. That act has gotten mighty old. And it has resulted in nothing but stalemate in Washington.