January 22nd, 2010
11:22 AM ET

Dear President Obama #368: Money talks ... just not to me

Reporter's Note: President Obama has reacted unhappily to a new Supreme Court ruling. I have reacted unhappily to the job the dry cleaners did on my blue shirt. Neither one of us, however, seems to be getting much satisfaction for all our complaints. Oh well, I guess I’ll just write my daily letter to the White House and try to forget my woes.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Sleet is tapping at the window of my office as I write this. Have you noticed our weather in DC lately? Kind of wild. Warm one moment; cold the next. You just never know what to expect. I had a girlfriend like that once. Speaking of tapping at the window, have the Salahis dropped by lately? Ha!

You know what you should do? Get a print of that picture of the two of them with Biden, have it framed, and then when he’s out have the Secret Service put it on his desk. You could have like thirty of them, and every time he throws one away, you wait a couple days and then replace it. That would be, in the words of Eisenhower, “Hilarious!”

Well, moving on. That big ruling from the Supreme Court has certainly stirred up storm clouds. I saw where you have already thrown a smack-down, saying it just gives big money special interests more say in shaping our elections, and presumably, who the winners will be. You’re probably right, but I can’t for the life of me figure out a reasonable way to keep big money from having that kind of influence.

Part of the problem lies in a fundamental rule of the DC game: The person complaining about too much money in the race, is most often the guy who doesn’t have enough. I mean, look, you’ve been a strong critic of the “cash-alanches,” and yet when your campaign was raking in the tips like a Hooters girl on Friday night, I did not hear a lot of calls to close the bar. To the contrary, you may recall a bit of a kerfuffle over the idea that you did not go with public financing after making it pretty clear you would.

Take it easy. I’m not trying to open old wounds. Politics is a tough game, and anyone who expects a leader to give up an edge like that in the name of “fair play” is bound to be disappointed. And yes, I remember how you had a lot of small donors helping drive your bus, too. But my point stands. When a race is on the line, and Thurston Howell III wants to get involved, it is the rare DC player who’ll tell him to put his wallet away.

Still, it’s troubling. The Supreme Court says, in effect, money equals free speech. Therefore, if you limit money in a campaign, you are limiting the free speech of the people with that money.

But the corollary is also compelling. If money is indeed free speech, then the richer you are, the more free speech you have. And while limiting free speech seems anti-American, allowing somehow to buy a disproportionate share of such a basic freedom also seems a little…how can I put it? Unspeakable.

Like I said, I have no clue how to rein in this problem. If you do, give me a call and let me know. Heck, give me a call anyway; you know that my phone is always on, and I’m always willing to chat.



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Conserve' for USA

    What I want to know if this administration is going to use part of the 400 billion dollars left from the 2nd stimulis to help with their elections this fall?

    January 22, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  2. Tim Gibson

    If we can have our number on the no call list, I am certain there is some way we can also limit that same "free speech" when it relates to the size of the wallet and influence into politics. Personal opinion or agenda is the end result in the voting process swayed by the same first class people on the Titanic who watched the flares in the darkness, listened to the screams of panic, and rowed away.

    But I think that is what makes us tap at the window right. That is what makes us turn out to vote ourselves. Our vote speaks loud, clear, and determined to stop the hostile takeover of America. Our attention is deeper than special interest check books making our vote more powerful than the wallet. It does not take the supreme court to figure that one out.

    January 22, 2010 at 9:03 am |