Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who's paying for the parties' parties?


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Also see: Obama Speech Stage Resembles Ancient Greek Temple


The Democratic and Republican convention extravaganzas are stage-managed down to the tiniest detail, but the real influence is bought and sold behind the scenes. Elizabeth Schulte explains how corporate cash pays for the parties' parties.

Who's paying for the parties' parties? (Eric Ruder | SW)


In the days before the Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama told a crowd at a barbecue in Eau Claire, Wis., what image of him he'd like people to take away from the Denver convention: "He's sort of like us. He comes from a middle-class background, went to school on scholarships. He and his wife had to figure out child care and how to start a college fund for their kids."

Yeah, the Democrats attending the convention in Denver are lot like you and me--that is, if you're used to rubbing elbows with the rich and famous at lavish parties and sleeping at the Ritz-Carlton, with a 6,800-square-foot spa.

The Democrats' convention Web site brags that the party is making history, with the "first convention since 1960, when President John F. Kennedy moved his acceptance speech to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, to open its doors to more than 75,000 people from across the country, as Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President of the United States at Invesco Field at Mile High. In the first 48 hours after the invitation was issued, more than 80,000 Coloradans requested community credentials for Senator Obama's speech."

But what they don't mention is that not all attendees are created--or will be treated--equally. During Obama's Invesco Field speech, reported the New York Times, "most supporters will be sitting under the open night sky. But a group of lobbyists and corporate executives will watch the event from plush skyboxes, with catered food and a flowing bar, and a price tag of up to $1 million."

Skybox attendees--which include representatives from Quest, Comcast and Xcel Energy and Tom Golisano, a New York Republican who donated $1 million--will also be able to avoid long security lines, since they have a separate entrance from "the community" and a private elevator to get them to their seats.

It's rumored that Oprah Winfrey, one of the wealthiest people in the world, was so excited to attend the convention that she rented a house for the week--to the tune of $50,000, more than many workers make in a year.

Before the convention, the Democrats made sure the media were rewarded for their compliance and were wined, dined and entertained like spoiled children--at the Elitch Gardens Amusement Park.

If excess is the unstated theme of the Democratic convention, there's more of the same at the Republican National Convention a few days later in St. Paul, Minn.

McCain and the Republicans will also try to peddle their "regular folks" image at their convention--much the same as George W. Bush, the straight-talking, no-nonsense portrait of a prep-school-then-Yale-graduate-turned-simple-rancher, did four and eight years ago.

While the GOP will be upstaged by the star power of the Democrats--Kanye West vs. Styx, George Clooney vs. Dennis Miller, you be the judge--the corporate cash will flow like champagne, or beer in deference to the "regular folks."


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