Dan Gainor

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.

Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.