Friday, May 11, 2012

Why did Obama go to L.A.? That's where the money is

Don't know if everyone remembers the old joke about Willie Sutton, famous bank robber of the early-mid 20th century in America. He was once asked why he robbed banks and replied, "That's where the money is."

Thursday night in Los Angeles Barack Obama got together with his bestest buddy George Clooney to raise a few dollars for the president's reelection campaign. Well, actually, those in attendance paid $40,000 per person to support the president's cause, according to The New York Times.

Filmmaker Jeffrey Katzenberg, credited by George Clooney for organizing the event, said the dinner raised nearly $15 million, which sets a record for a presidential election fundraiser:

Roughly half came from the donors; the rest came from an Obama campaign sweepstakes online for small contributors, two of whom were picked to attend the event.

Financial support of any kind is always welcome, but the entertainment industry's largesse is particularly important given that Obama has lost much support on Wall Street and donors with really deep pockets are not that easy to find.

And just because I have always aspired to be an entertainment reporter, I'm happy to let you know that:

Among the roughly 150 people in a large tent erected on Mr. Clooney's outdoor basketball court were actors and entertainers including Jack Black, Robert Donwey Jr., Selma Hayek, Toby Maguire, Barbra Streisand and her husband, James Brolin, and the designers Diane von Fursternberg and Trina Turk.

There, I can almost feel my own oneness with the beautiful people.

I suppose if anything counts as news from the event, aside from the huge haul, it might be this:

Mr. Obama has said that he intended to announce his support for same-sex marriage before the election, and has acknowledged that his timetable was moved up after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. last Sunday endorsed such unions in a television interview. The president, by announcing his own endorsement on Wednesday in an interview on ABC, avoided the awkwardness of coming here seemingly at odds with Mr. Biden on the issue.

But back to the glamour. The Times reported this exchange between Obama and George Clooney:

When Mr. Obama went through his stump-speech recitation of his work on the economy, energy policy, education, banking regulations and health care, and made his usual cracks about his new wrinkles and gray hair, on this night he added, "George doesn't have to go through these things."

"Look at me!" Mr. Clooney shouted from his table in the audience.

"I like that in you, brother," Mr. Obama said.

Yeah, George, look at you. Wish I had an extra 40 large I didn't need. Sounds like it would have been fun.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

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