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The President Resorts to Telemarketing
Published on Tuesday, October 8, 2002 by
The President Resorts to Telemarketing
by Loraine Kohorn

The Senate debates whether we should give the President the power to bomb Iraq. The President puts the final polish on his address to the Nation, calling for the people's support for this grave plan.

Common Dreams Editors Note:
And he's not only calling Republicans. I too received this unwanted Bush telemarketing call - both at my home (also in Maine) and on the Common Dreams/California answering machine. Click here to listen to the 34-second tape recorded off our answering machine...
Meanwhile, on the home front, amidst the evening juggling in the family household, the phone call comes. Did some of you get the same message on your machine, perhaps left during this prime evening hour, standard protocol for all telemarketers ?

" Hello. This is President George W. Bush. "

It certainly sounds like his voice.

" You will soon receive an application for an absentee ballot."

Florida comes to mind, hundreds of absentee ballots that came in late, suspiciously weighted in Bush's favor, the final tally of which was never adequately accounted for or demonstrated to have been gathered legally. Here he is reminding me of this.

" Please take the time to fill out that application and mail it back. Once you receive your ballot, I hope you will support our great Republican candidates. They're working to make America stronger, safer, and better. I appreciate their support of my agenda."

Is this legal? Can the President leave messages on the answering machines of all Americans, asking them to vote for the Republican party? Did the drafters of the Constitution have telemarketing by the President in mind in determining what makes for a fair election? Would direct marketing by the president be tolerated in what would be judged to be fair and free elections in, say, Mozambique or Guatemala?

" Please, when the vote-by-mail application arrives, fill it out and return it. It's a convenient way to vote. Exercise your right as an American to vote. And join me in supporting our Republican candidates. Thank you."

Even if it is legal for the President to telemarket for his party, it is in poor taste, and troublesome - at least as harassing as calls from AT & T and MCI, and far more indicative of a government - a political party- out of its bounds. I can ask the long-distance companies to remove me from their lists, and they are legally bound to comply. Am I able to ask the White House to remove me from their telemarketing list, and are they legally bound to comply?

And why is the Republican Party pushing absentee ballots, anyway? Are they sending these phone messages to citizens living overseas as well?

Loraine Kohorn is an ecologist living in Brunswick, Maine.


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