Washington for sale


THE DEMOCRATS have put a "For Sale" sign on the White House. It was recently announced that if you give $100,000 to the party, you are entitled to two meals with President Clinton, to attend two events with Vice President Al Gore, to a spot on a foreign trade comission with party and business leaders and to impromptu meetings with various administration officials. Also, you'll get a daily fax report (I did not make any of this up).

For $50,000 you can go to a presidential reception, have dinner with Al Gore and attend special policy briefings.

Ten thousand dollars brings you a presidential reception and orchestra seats at the Democratic National Convention.

The big bargain is, in exchange for $1,000 the donor receives an invitation to meet Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore and female political appointees.

While all these incentives sound perfectly legal to me, there have to be some political observers who are worried that the donor program could get out of hand.

I know a very rich man, Joe Glover, who told me that he had just written out his check and was sending it over to the White House by messenger.

"I have a few things I want to tell the president, and I really need him to pay attention."

"What makes you think that he will listen?" I asked Joe.

"Because money talks. I have no problem putting the White House on my payroll, and if they want to throw in Al Gore as my dinner partner, so be it."

"Maybe the Democratic National Committee is just pulling your leg, and after they cash your check, they will seat you 'below the salt' -- way down at the end of the dining table -- next to presidential aide George Stephanopoulos."

Mr. Glover said, "No way. I have been promised a seat on Clinton's right at breakfast or across from him at dinner, whichever comes first. I also have been asked to serve on a foreign trade mission. For an additional $50,000, I get to set the federal interest rates for September. When it comes to fund-raising the White House knows how to treat its donors.

"I even heard there's talk that for a million dollars contributors are entitled to a choice of meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat or Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and negotiating a Middle East peace treaty, or inspecting a nuclear facility in North Korea. I find that pretty exciting."

"And well you should. How does your wife feel about meeting with Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore?"

"Everyone in Glen Oaks is green with envy. It's considered one of the best buys of the summer."

Joe believes that it is an American's duty not only to participate in government, but also to pay for it. He also thinks that by buying in at this time a person can be helpful to the administration, as it gives the president an opportunity to talk to the grass-roots people for a bargain price.

Mr. Glover explained, "I want to get in on the ground floor because I think that the day will come when the price of a meal with the president could go soaring into seven figures, and only the really fat cats will be able to afford it. Right now being able to eat scrambled eggs with the president for $100,000 is something any member of the middle class can afford."

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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