Alongside George Clooney, Barbara Streisand, and Salma Hayek sat humble Beth Topinka, a science teacher from New Jersey, and Karen Blutcher, utility worker from Florida. These were the two ordinary people lucky enough to win an Obama 2012 “raffle” that granted them access to a $40,000 a plate fundraiser held at George Clooney’s home basketball court. (I have to think an opportunity was missed here. Could Obama and his Hollywood boosters not have pleased a lot more proles by allowing them to amass outside Clooney’s gates and then tossing them trinkets from the presidential litter as it passed by?)
Beth and Karen’s golden tickets also entitled them to a swim in a river of chocolate, a case of fizzy lifting gas, and access to a world of pure imagination:
“Obviously yesterday, we made some news,” Obama said to applause from a crowd of 150 people who paid $40,000 a ticket to see the president at the Oscar-winning actor’s home.
“But the truth is it was the logical extension of what America’s supposed to be. It grew directly out of this difference in visions. Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly,” he said.
Obama’s campaign has contrasted Obama’s newly evolved position on the issue with Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee who opposes gay marriage.
The issue was especially resonant in California, where many famous actors and actresses support legalizing gay marriage. Barbra Streisand, Salma Hayek, Tobey Maguire and Jack Black were among the high-profile stars who dined at tables set up on Clooney’s basketball court.
[. . . ]
Obama’s campaign revved up supporters with teasers about Clooney, encouraging fans to donate as little as $3 online for a chance to dine with the Oscar-winning actor and the president in Los Angeles.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, head of DreamWorks Animation and a major fundraiser for Obama’s campaign, said the Clooney event raised nearly $15 million for Obama and his fellow Democrats. A campaign official declined to confirm that figure.
“We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George. They like me, they love him. And rightfully so,” Obama said.
I can only assume most of the dinner chatter centered on the price of Ann Romney’s blouses.
But seriously, the more I think about it, the more I think Obama’s courageous clarion call on gay marriage — in case you’ve forgotten, POTUS said in no uncertain terms that “at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think . . .” well, you get the gist — was a brilliant political stroke. Rich progs were always going to come home for the president in November, but they were going to do so reluctantly, and worse yet, stingily. Cue Obama, who understands these people better than they understand themselves. The campaign has been guarding this gay marriage thing like the last clasp on the massive brassiere of its base mobilization strategy, and they weren’t about to give it up without some commitment. Sure enough, the president empties the dictionary of qualifiers en route to articulating a legislatively inert .5 degree modulation of his position on gay marriage that relies on, of all things, federalism as an escape clause, and a tear glistens in the eyes of every man, woman, and child in Hopeychangeworld. 2008 muscle memory kicks in, hearts swell, and wallets open. He is The One they’ve been waiting for, after all.