Dear President Obama,
Please do not let the traffic hit you on the way out.
This week marked another of President Obama's nighttime visits to Los Angeles -- and another traffic jam.
First, let me say that the security of the leader of the free world is of the utmost importance. The President of the United States must essentially travel in a secured bubble. Airspace must be shut down. Streets must be closed. This is all perfectly reasonable and necessary.
However, given the reality of what it takes for the President to travel, why must he come to Los Angeles on a weekday during rush hour? The President rightly complains about gridlock in Washington, D.C. Well, his visits give gridlock a new meaning on the streets of Los Angeles.
President Obama was here not to govern or to meet and greet constituents, but to fundraise, and that also makes complete sense. Thanks to many misguided decisions by our Supreme Court, money is an essential (if not the essential) factor in being able to run a competitive presidential campaign. If, as the Supreme Court has said, money is the equivalent to speech, then President Obama must come to California (the ATM of the states) to raise money. He can hardly be begrudged his right to raise money in the Golden State. It would be silly not to raise some Hollywood money.
But again, must the fundraisers occur during the busiest travel time in one of the busiest cities?
A couple suggestions. First, President Obama could come on a weekend. Fewer people are on the streets, and more people can decide whether or not to stay home to avoid the traffic.
Second, hold fundraisers where Air Force One lands. If people are willing to pay up to $35,000 per plate for a few hours in the same room as President Obama, I'm going to venture a guess that they would be willing to drive to a hotel or residence near Los Angeles International Airport. If even that is not possible, then hold the fundraiser closer to where a helicopter can land. Reportedly President Obama took a helicopter from the airport to area surrounding the University of California at Los Angeles. Why not hold a fundraiser in Westwood?
Traveling in a secured environment and raising money are necessities for any President. However, query as to whether fundraising in rush hour in Los Angeles is also a must.
Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government in Los Angeles every week. She is a Visiting Professor at Loyola Law School.