OBAMA PLAN: FUNDRAISE, THEN PARDON TURKEY
Ah, the glittering White House fundraising amid political discord: we’re talking seven events in 48 hours to raise money for Democratic lawmakers gearing up for the 2014 midterms. President Obama departed the nation’s capital Sunday, bound for a pair of fundraisers in Seattle. But, hey, a West Coast visit always includes California, and Mr. Obama jets South on Monday to headline the moneymakers.
The president arrives in San Francisco for two Democratic National Committee events in the morning, tickets priced from $1,000$15,000 each. By afternoon, it’s on to Los Angeles, first to the home of basketball great Magic Johnson, tickets $2,500-$15,000 per person. Then it’s over to Beverly Hills for dinner with billionaire Haim Saban and friends, tickets at $16,200 each. A visit to the home of TV’s “Friends” creator Marta Kauffman follows, tickets $32,400 each.
Deadline Hollywood correspondent Dominic Patton, who has been tracking the events, expects the final fundraiser to be “smallish,” but bring in $1 million. “The president will take direct questions for an hour or so from the big-money ticket buyers,” Mr. Patton says.
Mr. Obama will make it back to Washington in time to pardon the White House Thanksgiving turkey early Wednesday afternoon. The handsome bird from Badger, Minn., has gotten some Hollywood-style coaching of his own from his owner and National Turkey Federation Chairman David Burkel, who has offered the gobbler pointers on photo-ops, media hubbub and pardoning protocols.
The bird in question and his official alternate left Minnesota on Sunday for the 1,500-mile journey to the White House, comfortably ensconced upon cedar shavings in the back of a van. They will luxuriate in an unnamed hotel nearby and ultimately retire to a Virginia farm in the aftermath of the ceremony, a harmonious destiny not without criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The activists condemn Mr. Obama’s pardoning as “pimping for poultry producers.” Donald Trump and House Speaker John A. Boehner, who has been deemed “basically an orange traffic cone at this point,” in this ineffectual hall of fame. Mr. Obama is No. 17 on the roster. “I have spent the majority of this man’s presidency watching bad things happen, then hearing a thoughtful speech about how we have to make sure the bad things never happen again, and then watching as nothing gets done,” says Drew Magary, who made the determinations.
Anthony D. Weiner is No. 2, while Dennis Rodman wins first place by merit of his visit this year to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. And about that list. It could have been longer. “The hardest part for us was keeping it to 25,” Mr. Magary observes.
“Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world. While the Arctic temperature rise is relatively small in absolute terms, its effects are significant — transforming what was a frozen desert into an evolving navigable ocean, giving rise to an unprecedented level of human activity. Traffic in the Northern Sea Route is reportedly expected to increase tenfold this year compared to last year,” Mr. Hagel told his audience.
He went on to speak of stewardship, safety, budget limitations, fuel efficiency, international law, diplomatic engagement, the “Arctic Security Forces Roundtable” and the 27,000 military personnel in Alaska. He predicted the new strategy would prove effective over decades.
“As President Obama has said, ‘the Arctic region is peaceful, stable, and free of conflict.’ Our goal is to help assure it stays that way,” Mr. Hagel concluded. “Ultimately, we envision a secure and stable Arctic, where all nations’ interests are safeguarded, and where all nations work together to address problems and resolve differences.”
While President Obama jets around the West Coast, the official White House Thanksgiving turkeys are on their way to Washington to be “pardoned”; they ride upon cedar shavings in their own van.