When Barack Obama touted his plan to “spread the wealth around,” conservatives worried about the creep of Socialism – or Socialist creeps – coming to Washington. But as millions of zealous Obama worshippers prepare to invade the nation’s capital for his Jan. 20 inauguration, it’s obvious the free market still rules.
The Obama team is already helping small businesses, homeowners, hotels, airlines and limousine companies. Their frenzy has generated a huge market for anything related to the liberal-elect, from T-shirts, buttons, coins and posters to Christmas ornaments and a “6" Action Figure toy doll.” A quick search of the online auction site eBay shows 20,243 Obama items for sale. You can get a “life-size cardboard stand-up” of the president elect for just $34.99. Better hurry.
Newspapers and magazines are desperately trying to boost their bottom lines by printing extra election copies. How much the news media are making off the fan craze is still anyone’s guess – but it’s millions of dollars. According to Editor & Publisher, “On the Day After the Day After: Obama Newspaper Rush Continues – Millions of Extra Copies Out.” Journalists finally figured out a way to make a buck by helping elect a president. “The New York Times carried a large ad in its print edition today offering an original copy of the Wednesday paper for $14.95,” writes E&P. That’s just one of 37 separate Obama items for sale on the paper’s Web site.
The E&P article adds that The Washington Post increased its daily print run by “a total of 350,000 copies of the extra edition Wednesday, selling them for $1.50 each. Another 250,000 are being printed today.” Those copies cost $9.95 now. Sell them all and Obama is the new $6 million man.
There’s even more. In the shopping area on the Post’s site, you can find a pair of “Andrew Christian Obama 08 Low Cut Trunk” men’s underwear with Obama’s face on them for just $24 – the ultimate in Obama support. According to that ad, it’s “been featured on. MSNBC's Hardball, Fox News and The Daily Show.”
Obamania has already taken hold in Washington, still two months prior to the inaugural. According to The New York Times, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has said attendance “could be as high as 3 million.” As a result, the market for D.C.-area home rentals has become stratospheric. A weeklong rental in D.C. in Brookland can cost $9,500. Several others are in that price range, though that’s low compared to some. The largely free local classified Web site Craigslist has nearly 500 temporary rooms/homes to rent for the inauguration.
Want to be pretty far out in the suburbs and fight epic Washington traffic? That will cost an Obama fan $15,000 for six nights in a “Gorgeous, Clean townhome sleeps 6” in Crofton, Md. Crofton not tony enough for liberals in your household? Try $35,000 for a “Primo 4 Bedroom” in Chevy Chase. That’s not a house down payment. The home advertises “Tasteful, critically acclaimed 18th century 4 bedroom available for families and Democrats.” The ad ends, of course with “G'Obama!” For $35,000, I’d write “G'Obama!” as well.
Getting to Washington without tickets is worthless. But buying them might be out of the question as well. Not surprisingly, Congressional Democrats are appalled at actual free market economics. The Associated Press reports “Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also said she's crafting a bill that would make a federal crime of selling tickets to the historic event Jan. 20.” Entrepreneurship “a federal crime.” Color me unsurprised.
Feinstein can’t stop the underground economy. Besides, that ticket is only part of the equation. Inaugural ball tickets cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more. Two tickets to the famous “Black Tie and Boots: Texas State Society Inaugural Ball” are $800. Illinois Presidential Inaugural Ball tickets are starting to reach Super Bowl territory. Currently two cost $2,000 to attend the ball for Obama’s home state.
Don’t look for the economic downturn to limit other excesses either. The Washington Examiner says even limos have sold out. “D.C.’s elite car companies are at near capacity for rentals of SUVs, limousines and Town Cars for the inauguration,” it wrote on Nov. 25.
One thing is certain – the Obama presidency isn’t beyond color after all. There’s plenty of green.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and Vice President of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.