Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bush Not The Life Of The Party

It would appear President Bush is a bit of a fundraising dud these days:
Poor ticket sales, expected protests scuttle Bush-McCain fundraiser at Phoenix Convention Center

A Tuesday fundraiser headlined by President Bush for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is being moved out of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.

Oh no! There goes the party! But here’s the funniest part:

Bush's Arizona fundraising effort for McCain is being moved to private residences in the Phoenix area. A White House official said the event was being moved because the McCain campaign prefers private fundraisers and it is Bush administration policy to have events in public venues open to the media. The White House official said to reconcile that the Tuesday event will be held at a private venue and not the Convention Center.

Way to go, Bushie! Blame it on the McCain campaign! Well, I’m going to call bullshit on that one. I distinctly remember President Bush attending fundraisers at private homes here in Nashville back in 2004 and 2006. I know this because one of those events was at a home just a couple of miles from my house. Some people I know protested in the yard of a sympathetic Democrat who lived across the street from the home where the fundraiser was held. A quickie Google search confirmed my memory isn’t entirely shot. It was almost exactly four years ago.

And then there’s this:

During the Bush presidency, the press has nearly always been banned from fundraisers in private homes. Former President Clinton sometimes allowed the press into such fundraising settings, at least for his remarks.

Here’s another one:

Schwarzenegger isn't planning to join Bush at the library because of what the president is doing tonight: holding a fundraiser for the Republican National Committee at a private residence in L.A.

By the standards of presidential fundraisers, this one will be small. It's expected to yield $1 million, with 100 couples invited to pay a $25,000 door charge. (Some will get in free because they've already given big.)

Okay, as gotchas go, this one is small. I understand the White House is trying to cover for the fact that Dear Leader is the most hated Presidential figure in modern American history. It’s especially embarassing when ministers of the Methodist church campaign to block the Bush Library and think tank at Southern Methodist University. Ouch.

But there’s another component to this issue. Since the President cannot use the trappings of his office--like, for instance, transportation on taxpayer-funded Air Force One--for partisan political purposes, Bush has always coupled his nationwide fundraising travel with “official” business. A speech somewhere, followed by a swanky $25,000 a head private dinner. A lot of us think it’s pushing the rules a bit, and those of us who remember all of the pearl-clutching over which telephone Vice President Gore used to make his fundraising calls think the right’s being a little hypocritical here.

So we’re all going to be eagerly watching what the Righties do when a Democrat lands in the White House. Since there seem to be two sets of rules in the political playbook, one for Democrats and one for Republicans, I think we should all be paying attention to this stuff now, before the Memory Hole gets scrubbed and the conservatives get on their high horses criticizing Democrats for stuff they've been getting away with for years.