Last night, I had the following conversation with my best friend:
"Can you leave work early tomorrow?"
"I'm not sure," replied my best friend, who, for her own privacy, we'll name Jane.
"Did you tell your parents?" I asked.
"Yes, I told them not to leave the house tomorrow night."
Jane and I decided that we might be suffering from a minor case of post-traumatic stress syndrome since President Barack Obama is coming back to town tonight. Jane's 2.5 hour car ride home (for what is typically a 15-minute commute) during one of his past fundraising visits is still seared into our memory. As is my family member's unplanned two-hour ride home for a trip that normally takes around 10 - 20 minutes.
Now it is certainly not President Obama's fault that our current set of campaign finance laws necessitates fundraising, fundraising, and then some more fundraising. (I'll leave for another post my opinion on whether he has done enough to reform our current system.) It is seemingly, however, within President Obama's control when and where he decides to travel for fundraisers.
Perhaps if President Obama was visiting Los Angeles on government business I would feel differently. But he is not. He is here for a fundraiser at actor George Clooney's house in Studio City. The fundraiser is expected to raise a record-breaking $15 million.
As journalist and author Joe Mathews points out, there must be suitable venues for a fundraiser closer to the airport or a helicopter landing site. I would like to suggest that the 150 guests at tomorrow night's fundraiser travel the 10 to 20 miles to some of those locations. This to me to is much more preferable to crippling an already-congested rush hour.