My Dinner with Barack: The Sweepstakes

A few months ago, I donated some money to Barack Obama’s campaign. It was an impulse, but a modest impulse. One result is that I get lots of Obama email updating me on the struggle and importuning me for more cash. Hey, that’s the way it works. When you give money to a political cause, you’ve identified yourself as a mark of sorts and you’re going to keep hearing from people who want to remind you of how valuable your past contributions have been — and by the way, where’s the next one?

So. Obama. Today I got an Obama email with a tantalizing offer. If I contribute something to the campaign in the next week — it doesn’t matter how much — I “could join Barack and three other supporters for an intimate dinner for five.” In short, it sounds like a sweepstakes or a raffle: You’re buying a chance to meet the celebrity up close and personal. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Thoughts and questions abound: Is this legal? (It’s got to be; I mean if the Lincoln Bedroom and intimate hunting trips with high officials have been on the auction block, how can this be wrong?) What sort of joint will host the dinner? (In-n-Out Burger gets kind of noisy.) Will Barack leave the table while I’m in the middle of relating my life story to go have a smoke? (Hey, man, I thought you were quitting.) Would it be gauche to ask Barack to autograph my menu? (Remember to bring a pen that will write on grease stains.) Will the Secret Service be involved in picking the sweepstakes winners, or at least in investigating their pasts? (What’s this about disorderly conduct?) Who’s going to pick up the tab? (Should I donate enough to cover the tip?)

[Update 6/7/07: Yesterday’s invitation to break bread with Senator Obama, sent over a staffer’s name, was followed today by one signed by the candidate himself. Consider me cajoled!]

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