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Art Buchwald

The Committee to Sell the Presidency

January 22, 1985

Now that the selling of the presidential inauguration has proved so successful, can the selling of the presidency be far behind?

The inauguration committee copyrighted the inaugural logo and licensed all rights to souvenir companies as well as to corporations, who could then advertise that they were the "official company" of the presidential inauguration.

Obviously, the committee got the idea from the Los Angeles Olympics. Inaugurations do cost money, but my fear is that the people who organized the presidential festivities won't stop there. They may soon start selling the rights to the presidency.

"White House Licensing Committee."

"This is the Fruitcake Cereal Co. We'd like to become the official cereal company to the President."

"We're sorry, those rights have already been spoken for. Do you make any other products?"

"We're the largest cupcake manufacturer in America."

"Well, cupcakes haven't been spoken for yet. We can let you have the presidential seal of approval for a million dollars."

"Will the President do our commercials?"

"He can't do that. But we'll give you permission to hang a tasteful cupcake banner behind him in the East Room when he's holding his press conferences."

"We'll take it. Send the contracts to us right away."

"Thank you. . . . White House Licensing Committee."

"This is the president of the Real Instant Coffee Co. We wish to sign on as the official coffee supplier to the White House."

"What did you have in mind?"

"We want to produce one TV commercial showing Margaret Thatcher drinking our coffee at a state dinner, and expressing her surprise that it was an instant brand and did not come out of a coffeepot."

"I don't see any problem with that, but let me check it out with the White House chef and get back to you. . . . White House Licensing Committee."

"This is the Cartilage Sneaker Co. Has anyone put in a bid yet for the official President's running shoes?"

"No, it's still up for grabs."

"Good. All we ask in exchange is that the President and his wife wear our sneakers when they're running for the helicopter to take them to Camp David."

"I don't think we could promise you that. The First Lady has never publicly worn sneakers in her life. But we could get Vice President George Bush to wear them as he's flying off to attend a state funeral."

"We don't want Bush, we want the President and his wife. If you can't deliver, then forget it."

"Sorry about that. . . . White House Licensing Committee."

"This is the Yakamura Film Co. We want to become the official film company to the White House."

"It will cost you."

"We don't care what it costs. But we'd have to be assured that the White House photographers will only use Yakamura film when they take pictures of the President."

"We can't do that, because we have no control over the White House photographers. But what we can do for you is make sure that those photographers using Yakamura film will get the best places up front to shoot from while they're snapping away at the President."

"Put us down for the license."

"Will do. . . . White House Licensing Committee."

"I'm a lawyer representing the Fourth of July Souvenir Co. The Secret Service visited my client yesterday and informed him he couldn't put the American flag on his beer mugs anymore."

"That's correct. We now hold the copyright on the Stars and Stripes. But for a small royalty, your client can have exclusive beer mug rights to the American flag for the next four years."

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