Paying to play

Disturbing emails these were. They were among the thousands recently divulged by villainous WikiLeaks.

The emails were between the top finance guy of the Democrat Party and a big personnel guy at the White House. The party guy sent a list of big donors. For the White House to consider for federal commissions and boards.

In other words, it was evidence of pay-to-play. You pay big bucks to the party. In return you get to sit on a prestigious board.

One email noted that one of the big hitters wanted to be put on the Postal Service board of governors. (Why would anybody want to be on the board of something that loses billions every year?) Sure enough, months later President Obama appointed him. Congress blocked the appointment.

Pay to play is illegal, of course. President Obama solemnly promised to end it. Right.

The emails should have attracted more comment. They did not, for a couple reasons. One is that they got lost in the blizzard of political news that week. Another is that they were mere morsels. In the feast of 20,000 emails WikiLeaks served up. Reporters had their plates full.



A third reason why the pay to play emails were set aside: They were hardly a revelation. We all know pay to play is as common as steak dinners in Washington.

Nobody believed Obama when he promised to abolish it. Many candidates before him made the same promises. And nobody believed them.

This is because we all know the truth. If you kick in enough money you can buy the ambassadorship to New Zealand. Or to some other small country. Heck, you can probably even buy some of the countries. You can buy your way onto various boards and commissions in Washington. You can buy some status.

You can buy the right to drive your pals crazy with envy. “Sorry, guys, I’ve got to miss golf this week. The President asked me to serve on his Commission For The Study of Discrimination in Easter Egg Colors. I need to be in D.C. Every other fifth Wednesday of even-numbered months.”

Sometimes this backfires. A small country will turn into a hot spot. And the ambassador has to actually do some real work. He has to really know something important. Something beyond hosting dinner parties.

Occasionally a dud gets appointed to the wrong commission. We recently learned that Hillary placed a guy on commission that dealt with cyber-security. Serious stuff. The guy was about as qualified for this as the building’s janitor. Ahh, but he had bought his way onto the commission. With big contributions to her foundation, I believe.

If you are across the political divide from Hillary, Obama and the Democrats you have no right to be smug at this point. These shenanigans are just as popular among Republicans. Yes, they sell ambassadorships too. Some of these little countries haven’t seen a career diplomat as ambassador from America for decades.

Now you may feel this is corruption. Well, you are right.

And you may be one of those who goes further. You might say these high and mighty positions must be fake. After all, they go the highest bidders. Number one qualification is the ability to write numbers with lots of zeroes on checks. If you say such a thing people might call you a cynic. I would call you a pretty good observer of reality.

If all those commissions died tomorrow, nobody would go to their funeral. Nobody would miss them. If we didn’t get around to sending our ambassador to New Zealand for fifty years nobody would much care. Or notice.

If I had been a better Latin student I would know what “For Sale” is in that language. And I would recommend to Washington that we add it to our country’s official seal.

If I sent a big enough check with my recommendation I’d probably get appointed to a Presidential Commission to Consider Changes to the National Seal.

From Tom…as in Morgan.

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