If you didn't get your invitation yet, don't despair. They were delivered, en masse, via email, and merely give the illusion of being engraved. They are actually kind of cheap and tawdry-looking. And the spelling skills of whatever Social Secretary of Snobbery designed them leave something to be desired too. For example, the ultra-exclusive George Washington Premium Partner Package includes Inaugural Parade "bleecher" seats. Not only is the lack of custom-upholstered seating de trop, the offer is downright insulting. It sounds like they're going to stuff the corporate welfare leeches up in the nosebleed section.
The only surprising thing about President Obama shilling for tax-shielded corporate money to fund his extravaganza is that a lot of people are actually surprised about it. After all, this is the guy who sold exclusive access to his corpus throughout his campaign, for a grand total of a billion dollars. The proceeds from his Inaugural balls will be mere chump change in the grand scheme of things.
But I guess you can't blame the victims of the Surprise. After all, in 2009, Team Obama made a big righteous deal about not taking any corporate lucre for the swearing-in festivities. Those were the days when our president was still fresh from his victorious marketing campaign based on a "grassroots movement." One of his PR flacks, a guy oxymoronically named Josh Earnest, sincerely joked at the time that the banning of corporate money was only the beginning to changing "the way business as usual is done in Washington."
The pretense at pretense is all gone now. Still, as Public Citizen puts it, we the people should have the right to not have "our" inauguration brought to us by the likes of Bank of America:
That the corporate-funded inaugural festivities will fall on the anniversary (Jan. 21) of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is not just ironic given President Obama’s stated support for a constitutional amendment to overturn the decision holding that corporations can spend unlimited amounts on elections, it undermines the case for corporate-free elections.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee has stated that it will not accept funds from lobbyists, foreign corporations, TARP recipients that have not repaid their government loans or others that do not pass its vetting process. But every corporation’s donations create a conflict of interest, because they all have business before the government in one way or the other. The problem with donations from lobbyists is that they expect something in return for their contribution. The situation is exactly the same with corporate contributors, virtually all of whom employ lobbyists.Of course, it has long been known that the Obama Administration has a nifty work-around to its anti-lobbyist rule. Either the lobbyists don't even bother registering as lobbyists, thereby gaining unfettered access to the White House, or the Obama people just meet with the influence peddlers across the street at the Caribou Cafe. From the New York Times:
On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.
But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the “most transparent presidential administration in history.”So it's not so much the graft and corruption -- we have cynically come to expect that in our politicians. It's the continuing hypocrisy of a president who lectures the country on the need for austerity at the same time he wines and dines with the elites. Those "bleechers for leechers" -- the seating arrangements for the exclusive corporate rumps -- are being constructed at taxpayer expense, by carpenters who now may have to wait a few more years to retire and collect Medicare. Those people cannot afford tickets to Candlelight Receptions and Benefactors Brunches and Children's Balls.
Writes John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation,
Even if Sheldon Adelson doesn't throw a casino-themed gala in Obama's honor, there's a whole machinery in DC built on brokering wealth and influence, and a good party feeds the scene. Neither defending the celebrations nor priming the check-writers presents a good public interest case for this move.Like I said -- they're giving up pretending at pretending. I wonder if the crowds in the exclusive bleechers (sic) will cheer when the president praises the free market in his Second Inaugural Address? I wonder if they'll send me an email asking me to donate $3 for a chance to win one of the nosebleed seats?
The Obama administration is likely to, again, justify their behavior by saying that they're following the law. Whenever their accountability policies have loopholes or problems, rather than fixing them, the administration asks to be judged in comparison to Bush, saying their record speaks for itself. At some point, though, it's time to judge Obama in his own words. Obama said unlimited donations sully our democracy, threaten public service, and weaken representation -- and has now chosen to embrace them.
Maybe Obama's setting the tone for his second term: we're not worried about whether we look like reformers at all.
One thing's for sure: if Barack Obama channels FDR and says "I welcome their hatred", he won't be talking about banksters. He'll be talking about his own base.
|The Class War Ain't Got No Class!|