Thursday, August 31, 2000
No RSVP from the cheap seats
Big doings last night in Indian Hill. The doings were Republican. Otherwise the caterers' trucks and the florists' vans would have been heading for Amberley Village.
Attorney Stanley Chesley hosts fund-raisers for Bill Clinton and Al Gore at his house. And George W. Bush's pals Mercer Reynolds III and William O. DeWitt Jr. do the honors in Indian Hill.
Attendance was by invitation only and the cheapest ticket was $1,000 for lawn seats at Mr. Reynolds' home. Many of the guests at the even-more-private reception and dinner paid $25,000, a contribution to the State Victory Fund.
This is funny money. Perfectly legal. But funny money, all the same. Soft money, some people call it. It is a bipartisan scandal. Candidates can't raise very much money from poor people. So they wind up spending time with rich ones.
That's the way it works.
The wealthy are often very lovely people. And they have their problems just like regular people. The problems are just not exactly the same set of problems.
Although both candidates talk about helping people who can't afford prescription drugs and people who can't afford to send their children to private schools, I am guessing that these are not the people who attend fund-raisers.
At the Republican convention in Philadelphia, it was often difficult to spot the major money guys. They wore ordinary business suits and might have been mistaken for, say, a delegate who won a floor pass by licking stamps for 15 years and buying his own airline ticket.
But the VIPs were hard to miss in Los Angeles. They are famous.
The spectacle of Al Gore wrapping his lips over the lower half of Tipper's face during the Democratic convention was hardly as offensive as the symbolic wet one he laid on, say, Brad Pitt.
Mr. Pitt and his bride, Jennifer Aniston, were among those inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles during the Democratic Convention. Barbra Streisand was lounging there.
It is a very privileged place to be. Passes are limited. Rob Reiner and Whoopie Goldberg are just citizens like the rest of us. Except they have more money.
At a private dinner, John Travolta told the president that he owns a 707 (one of those puppies) and said he'd be glad to give Mr. Clinton and the missus a ride. I'll bet the postmistress from East Podunk would have loved to share a laugh with the prez. Or the vice president.
But real personal access costs money.
Not very many of us have a 707 or $25,000 to blow on an evening. And when we talk about having money problems, we do not mean problems deciding what to call it or how to hide it. Most of us are trying to figure out whether we can afford to be sick. Or educate our children. Or retire.
People running for office run after money at the same time. That's the way it works. Not just presidents. Senators. Judges. Those who would serve on local councils and commissions.
Campaign money pays for commercial time. It pays to hire people to test the wind and tell the candidate what to say, how to dress, how to package his message. Those with little money will not be elected.
So they all of them meet separately with rich people.
And after a while, it must be hard to hear the noise from the cheap seats.
E-mail Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8393.
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