My two e-friends
SINCE LAST summer, when journalistic curiosity prompted me to sign up as a "supporter" on websites run by both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I've received more e-mails from them each day than I get from my daughter at college in an entire month - far more, actually. Here are a few (shortened, but unaltered) recent examples:
Dear Peter, As much as I enjoy talking to you by e-mail, there are times in this campaign when I wish you and I could sit down right next to one another and just talk. . . Hillary
Exactly. After the sleep-deprived Bosnia blather, those too-kind remarks about John McCain, and Bill's half-cocked campaign claims, I felt if Hillary and I just sat down - you know, "right next to one another" - she could clear everything up. But a few sentences later she said she wouldn't really be able to get together, adding:
Will you act immediately to help us close the fundraising gap by making a contribution?
Seems the wonderfully personal e-mails I get from the candidates always wind up being about money. (Maybe politicians are more like my daughter than I realized.)
At least Barack didn't mince words the other day when he wrote:
Dear Peter, Donate before 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight, and you could join me for dinner sometime soon. . . Barack
Dinner? Me and Obama? I'd gladly kick in a few bucks by midnight in order to share a pizza and a few beers. Barack even sent me these details:
I'll get to hear your personal story and ideas about how we can solve America's biggest problems together.
Sweet! But then I learned that only three or four lucky contributors out of several hundred thousand actually dine with Barack. One of them, Michael Griffith, "a miner from Fernley, Nevada," was kind enough to tell me about it in an e-mail:
It was an awesome experience - Barack spent hours talking to us, and at the dinner table he was just like any other guy. It really felt like somebody invited friends over for dinner and good conversation.
I hated to miss the dinner, but then I got an e-mail from Chelsea Clinton with an even better invitation:
Dear Peter, When I heard that Elton John was throwing a concert in New York for my mom's campaign, I knew it was going to be a night I didn't want to miss. Want to join me there? Alas, I learned that Hillary and Chelsea invited only two people to the April 9 concert and - no surprise - they were chosen from among people who sent in a lot of money. Since I've never sent money, my next e-mail from Hillary was puzzling:
Dear Peter, I am so inspired by all you have done for my campaign. You've made calls, you've volunteered, you've voted, you've given - and I'm so grateful for all you've done. . . You've let every little girl in America know that she can be anything she wants to be.
Kind of took my breath away. It's the same thing someone once told me when I bought three boxes of Girl Scout cookies.
But some of these frequent communiqués can be downright scary. Barack e-mailed:
Just turn on the news and you'll see that Senator Clinton continues to run an expensive, negative campaign against us . . . They're not just attacking me; they're attacking you.
While I was pondering that, Bill Clinton wrote:
Dear Peter, We know Senator Obama's strategy: spend, spend, and spend some more.
Then Bill asked me to send money so Hillary could presumably spend, spend, and spend some more. I didn't, but Hillary wrote:
I am truly touched . . . Your contribution could be the one that puts us over the top . . . Thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do - on to victory! Hillary
My "contribution" must be reading all her e-mails. But the excitement of the campaign is starting to wear off, so I'm moving Hillary and Barack to my Spam folder.
Perhaps I'll sign up for messages from the McCain campaign. I'm told I can expect to receive one letter per week, provided John remembers to put a stamp on it.
Peter Funt is a writer and TV host.