Activities of a Middle Class Warrior

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 25, 2011

Presumably, hobnobbing with Hollywood types is supposed to help this President relate to the average American:

Actor Will Smith and basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson for dinner and Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas for post-meal canapes. President Barack Obama waded into the domain of the stars Monday as he hit the California fundraising circuit in one of his busiest donor outreach trips of the season.

Smith, in an elegant three-piece suit, and Johnson, the standout former point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, were guests at the home of producer James Lassiter and his wife, Mai. About 40 contributors, including actress Hilary Duff, contributed $35,800 each for a cozy dinner and a chance to chat with the president. Obama, eager to reinvigorate his supporters, ticked off his administration’s accomplishments.

“Sometimes I think people forget how much has gotten done,” the president said as he urged his backers to rally once again, at the same time joking, as he often does, that he is older and grayer now. “This election won’t be as sexy as the first one.”

The Lassiter dinner, followed by a larger affair at the home of Griffith and Banderas, were part of a three-day, fundraising-rich swing through Nevada, California and Colorado. California, however, is his biggest donor state and he raised about $1 million in the Los Angeles area alone during the past two fundraising quarters, according to an Associated Press review of contributions above $200.

At Banderas’ and Griffith’s house, its entrance path lined with rose petals and votive candles, Obama told about 120 mostly Latino contributors that he has kept a list of his campaign promises and that, by his count, he has accomplished about 60 percent of them.

And in the same vein:

President Barack Obama’s new senior campaign adviser is a longtime Wall Street lobbyist, and has the potential to damage the president’s aspirations to appeal to the protesters currently “occupying” New York City’s Zuccotti Park.

Obama’s new adviser, Broderick Johnson, has an extensive history of lobbying for big banks and corporations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2007, he lobbied for JP Morgan Chase and in 2008 Johnson lobbied for Bank of America and Fannie Mae. From 2008 through 2010, he lobbied for Comcast and in 2011 he lobbied for Microsoft.

Johnson is currently a partner at D.C.-based communications firm Collins Johnson Group, which boasts that it excels at “providing superior strategic planning and political consulting services to multinational corporations, government entities, political campaigns and parties, elected leaders, nonprofit organizations, issue groups, investors and entrepreneurs.”

Including open houses and social events, Johnson has visited the White House 17 times since 2009, according to White House visitor logs. One of those meetings was with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

In early 2009, Johnson was named partner at lobbying firm Bryan Cave LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. In that role, his responsibility was to “establish and lead the firm’s new Public Policy & Governmental Affairs Client Service Group.”

That means that during those White House visits, Johnson was a registered lobbyist.

Of course, it doesn’t particularly bother me that this President is a politician. But during the campaign of Hope and Change, he was presented as being so much more than a mere politician. So much for any pretense that he is.

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