Sometimes I have ideas so brilliant that even if they would benefit my political opponents, I still have to share them.
James Taranto (fourth item) recently received an invitation to participate in a fundraiser for Barack Obama:
Our funding comes from a movement of Americans giving whatever they can afford, even $5, and Barack wants to sit down with supporters like you.
If you’ve ever thought about making a donation to join our campaign, now is the time. In the next week, four supporters will be selected for a new kind of fundraising dinner. We’re reserving two of those seats for new donors like you. . . .
The dinner for five is an opportunity for you to sit down with Barack and your fellow supporters and talk about what matters to you.
It’s a raffle, where the winners chosen at random, get to have an intimate dinner with the candidate.
Not a bad idea for a fundraiser. Only, it’s illegal in Tennessee.
In the Volunteer State, although we have a lottery, “games of chance” including raffles and bingo are illegal except for 501-c3 organizations, which a political campaign is not.
Now I happen to think it’s a silly rule to ban a raffle under these circumstances. But that’s the law.
So here’s my brilliant idea for the Obama camp:
Openly and flagrantly violate the law in what his supporters presumably think is the most “backward” part of the entire country: Rhea County, Tennessee, home of the Scopes-Monkey Trial, and where three years ago the County Commission banned homosexuality.
The Obama campaign ought to base the entire raffle out of a rented storefront in downtown Dayton, Tennessee, and just dare the local ”rubes” to arrest them for running an illegal gambling operation. And if they did . . . imagine the publicity!
What does Obama have to lose? Face reality, even with Phil Bredesen on the ticket, Democrats will not win Tennessee next November. And, if by some quirk they do, the people that they’ll upset with the stunt, aren’t the ones who would be voting for them anyway. Furthermore, the case against him probably would have no merit since federal election laws likely trump state gaming rules. But even if it did, what better publicity than to openly defy a law that many of your supporters probably think is silly.
More than eighty years ago the best of the world’s media reported breathlessly from a stifling hot Southern town and made a hero of an ordinary school teacher and a fool of Dayton, Tennessee. A political candidate in this day and age, has to spend an awful lot of money to buy that kind of publicity. But for just five dollars, Barack Obama could be the real winner of this raffle.