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The Election

The Pleading of President Forty-Four

The White House has been lauded for its grassroots internet campaigns to raise money. But what happens when a man takes the president’s messages too personally?

Audrey Frank Anastasi, Obama, 2009. Photo credit by Tabla Rasa Gallery.

From: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
To: Eric Feezell <redacted>
Subject: Eric, thank you 

Eric,

I want to thank you for all your hard work. If we prevail, it’s going to be because of you. Next week I’m meeting up with President Clinton on the campaign trail, and we both want to thank you in person.

Donate $5 to be automatically entered to fly out to join us! Unfortunately, there’s no billionaire donor or lobbyist waiting around to write a $10 million check.

Thanks,
Barack

 

From: Eric Feezell <redacted>
To: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
Subject: RE: Eric, thank you 

Hey, Barack,

You’re welcome! I’m happy all this work is paying off! I’d love to hook up with you and Bill and shoot the shit. Sorry for the language—little bit of Plain Folks strategy at work there. Guess we’ll see if this makes it through the White House spam filter.

I feel you on the money sitch—here’s another five-spot. Maybe Bill can float you a few simoleons, too? Fat-cat Republicans! They’ve got no idea what it’s like heading up a party reliant entirely on five-dollar donations.

Before I forget, I’ve got a favor to ask. The Oakland PD and I are experiencing a little disagreement about some parking tickets. I’m not asking you to intervene and clear all my tickets—that would be abuse of power. But just one of them. Eighty-three bucks for a supposed two-hour violation? If you can help me, I’ll give you half of the money, and I’ll totally waive the George Clooney breakfast. Anyway, I “hope” you can “change” my situation!

You know, it’s wild. When I signed up to receive your campaign correspondence, I never thought four years later we’d still write almost everyday.

“Four more years! Four more years!”

Eric

 

From: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
To: Eric Feezell <redacted>
Subject: I want to win

Friend,

I can’t do this on my own. We’re on the brink of a milestone American politics has never seen: 10 million grassroots donations in one election year. Together, we’ve reached major milestones in the past—because you helped get us there. Please donate $5 if you are able.

Thank you,
Barack

 

From: Eric Feezell <redacted>
To: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
Subject: RE: I want to win

Hey, Friend,

Who doesn’t want to win, besides maybe the Chicago Cubs? (Zing! Go Sox!) But seriously, I’ve said it before: You don’t have to be so dramatic. “I can’t do this on my own.” A friend in need is a friend indeed—and, my friend, you are in need of my five dollars. Don’t grovel. Just ask. I got paid yesterday.

Also, don’t tell him I said this, but Bill’s emails are sounding a tad preachy lately. Got one from him yesterday that started: “I hope you’ll pay attention, because this is important.”

You know, if I wanted to feel like a kindergartener, I’d ask Paul Ryan about his tax plan.

I called the OPD Parking Citation department and they said I’m officially overdue and owe them a penalty on top of the regular ticket fee. Look, if you can forge an official Hawaii birth certificate, surely you can flex some of that Chicago muscle and get this ticket cleared. Ha. Just giving you a hard time. But seriously, a little help?

I can’t do this on my own!

Eric

 

From: “Jim Messina” <info@barackobama.com>
To: Eric Feezell <redacted>
Subject: By tomorrow: 10 million donations

Friend,

Our final quarterly fundraising deadline is here! Almost 10 million! We’re at 9,725,074 now, and it’s going to take a huge push to get there before tomorrow’s midnight deadline, but I know we can do it—especially if you step up and do your part.

More soon,
Messina

 

From: Eric Feezell <redacted>
To: “Jim Messina” <info@barackobama.com>
Subject: RE: By tomorrow: 10 million donations

Sure, Jim, just let me call up 274,926 of my closest friends and do your job for you.

Barack, can you please tell Jim Messina to get his own email address? It’s the 21st century, Jim, in case you’re reading this!

Also, what’s up with signing off as “Messina”? This isn’t the seventies. Namedropping your coke-fueled ride on Kenny Loggins’ coattails will no longer get you laid, Jim. I think Barack would agree with me that Poco was your apex. What’s on your iPod lately, B.O.? Got that Frank Ocean album yet?

Stop emailing me, Jim Messina! Let me know on the ticket, Barack!

Eric

 

From: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
To: Eric Feezell <redacted>
Subject: I’m asking one last time

Eric,

This is the last time on this campaign that I’ll ask you: Want to meet for dinner? Donate $5 or whatever you can, and you’ll be automatically entered to join me—today only, each entry counts twice. 

Barack

 

Now that I don’t have to stay inside 24 hours a day maybe we can finally have that dinner? I’ve got a Groupon for Claim Jumper. How about tomorrow at seven?

From: Eric Feezell <redacted>
To: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
Subject: RE: I’m asking one last time

Barry,

Of course I’ll meet for dinner, provided I’m allowed to order $83 worth of Buffalo wings and soda! Kidding. But just to put this in perspective for you, I added up all my $5 campaign donations since 2008. Seven hundred thirty-three times for a total of $3,665! You keep asking, and I keep giving, because that’s what friends do. But this friendship is beginning to feel a little one-sided. There’s a warrant out for my arrest now. PLEASE HELP ME.

By the way, Joe Biden hopped onto your account to send a reminder about the dinner. I know parallel syntax is kind of his rhetorical go-to, but I think I counted the phrase “Trust me” 27 times. Dude needs a heavy-handed copy editor, is all I’m saying.

Anyway, dinner, yes. I’m thinking Red Robin. Better idea?

Eric

 

From: “Michelle Obama” <info@barackobama.com>
Subject: Hey, you’re amazing
To: Eric Feezell <redacted>

Friend,

This campaign is getting down to its very last days, and fast. Barack needs you with him now more than ever. Make a donation before the midnight deadline. Let him know you’re right there with him.

We’re on the brink of making grassroots history! Help us by giving.

Thanks,
Michelle

 

From: Eric Feezell <redacted>
Subject: RE: Hey, you’re amazing
To: “Michelle Obama” <info@barackobama.com>

Hey, Michelle,

You rascal! You always get me with your clever subject lines. Here I think, “Oh, she’s just saying hello, sharing some news about the girls.” Then it’s right into the sales pitch. Maybe next time try, “Hey, you’re amazing, and can I borrow five bucks?” Then I’ll be better prepared, mentally, to loan you the money.

Sorry to put you in the middle, but could you maybe ping Barack on something? I think I’ve got a couple messages stuck in his junk folder.

Be good, gurl.

Eric

 

From: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
To: Eric Feezell <redacted>
Subject: This is in your hands, no one else’s

Eric,

There have been many times in my life when I’ve been counted out—told that I couldn’t do it, told not to speak out for what I believe in. I’ve only gotten this far because of you.

Right now the other side is trying to obliterate the hard work we’ve put in on the ground. If they win, they’re going to dismantle everything we’ve accomplished together over the past three and a half years.

We cannot let that happen. Please donate $5 or more today.

Thank you,
Barack

 

From: Eric Feezell <redacted>
To: Barack Obama <info@barackobama.com>
Subject: RE: This is in your hands, no one else’s

Hey, B.O.,

So I called OPD about the ticket, and they had no record of the citation number or the warrant! “We lose these files from time to time,” the guy said, due to “understaffing” and “severe budget constraints.” Pretty elaborate story you concocted on this one! Seriously, thanks a million. I won’t ask for favors like this too often. Was that person on the phone an actor or a real guy?

Speaking of favors, here’s another five-spot. I’m sorry about my previous emails, I was just anxious about the arrest warrant. Now that I don’t have to stay inside 24 hours a day maybe we can finally have that dinner? I’ve got a Groupon for Claim Jumper. How about tomorrow at seven? If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume we’re on—you’ve got my cell otherwise.

“Five more bucks! Five more bucks!” Just giving you a hard time.

(Unless you want to use that?)

Eric

biopic

TMN Contributing Writer Eric Feezell‘s work has appeared at the Onion News Network and McSweeney’s, among others. He lives in Oakland, Calif. More by Eric Feezell