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In Defense of Obama's Bowling for Dollars

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It's a requirement that any candidate for the presidency vow to banish the wicked special interests in Washington, DC. Then, once a new president enters office, the media pounces to show that the good times are still rolling. The president, far from curbing excesses, is slipping into nefarious old Washington practices.

Such is the indictment that President Obama currently faces. The Washington Times first reported that Obama has been doling out favors to donors that include (gasp!) the use of the White House bowling alley. Truly American presidents do, it seems, bowl for dollars. Now the Washington Post's Dana Milbank and the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny have raised their respective eyebrows over the administration's fundraising efforts, while press secretary Robert Gibbs offers contorted defenses. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, is demanding an investigation that will reveal "whether there was any quid pro quo offered to donors, and the names of White House officials who were involved."

Poor Gibbs! It's too bad he can't just tell the truth: handing out a few perks to donors is really no big deal. But the Obama administration set itself up for this flurry of publicity by its pious and ostentatious avowals of virginal chastity--that it would be the squeakiest, cleanest administration there ever was, before it ran into the reality that it's essential, among other things, to make distinctions between handing out a few innocuous favors and real influence peddling. So now we're onto the question of whether a campaign contributor might have bunked in the Lincoln bedroom.

Gibbs says it ain't so. Phew!

But for my part, I hope Obama keeps inviting donors to the White House. It's good to know that the greenback, which has lost much of its value against other foreign currencies, is still good for buying something. I'm thinking of testing the waters myself to see what the cheapest price might be to camp out for an evening in the Lincoln bedroom--perhaps the administration can put it on Priceline.com. Or it might just consider selling raffle tickets for $5. My guess is that honest Abe might himself approve of the democratic spirit of the venture.

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