Is an extravagant inauguration more needed now?
Four years ago, the Associated Press and others in the press suggested it was in poor taste for Republicans to spend $40 million on President Bush’s inauguration. AP writer Will Lester calculated the impact that kind of money would have on armoring Humvees in Iraq, helping victims of the tsunami, or paying down the deficit. Lester thought the party should be cancelled: “The questions have come from Bush supporters and opponents: Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?”
Fast forward to 2009. The nation is still at war (two wars, in fact), and now also faces the prospect of a severe recession and federal budget deficits topping $1 trillion as far as the eye can see. With Barack Obama’s inauguration estimated to cost $45 million (not counting the millions more that government will have to pay for security), is the Associated Press once again tsk-tsking the high dollar cost?
Nope. “For inaugural balls, go for glitz, forget economy,” a Tuesday AP headline advised. The article by reporter Laurie Kellman argued for extravagance…….
According to the AP four years ago, things were so bad, Bush should feel guilty about blowing $46 million on his inauguration. Now, AP argues that Obama should have the most expensive inauguration ever. And, he’s obliging, with the cost somewhere around $160 million at this point.
Others took even further. Late 2004 also saw the awful tsunami that killed thousands of people. Some people took the opportunity to slam Bush’s inauguration in relation to that event as well:
The juxtaposition of news about the disaster in the Indian Ocean basin and the prices of the Presidential inauguration parties presents too great a clash for me to ignore. According to the NY Times, the Presidential Inaugural Committee expects the tab to top $40 million. Tickets are selling in the range of $2,500 per person.
I don’t want to belabor this. The moral is obvious. It’s not that we’re the richest country in the world; somebody’s go to be that. Nor even that our contribution to assist the victims, large though it may be, is far from the size it could be. But to spend millions on a gaudy party in the name of the President while so many are in such dire need seems to me to be the epitome of everything we should not stand for.
This isn’t–or shouldn’t be–a Left/Right issue. People of good will are horrified by the scale of this disaster, and don’t think of it in terms of domestic politics. The scale is unprecedented in our lifetimes. Here is an opportunity to both do great good and to be seen as doing great good. And that’s something the U.S. could use a bit more of these days. But, I suppose that any suggestion that the inaugural parties be canceled or scaled down and that the funds be sent where they could do real good will be seen as partisan.
- Should we try to start a groundswell (dare I say tsunami?) of popular support for scaling down the parties and sending the money to those in dire need?
- How can this be discussed and advocated free of partisan positions as something that active workers–those who really do get things done–from both Left and Right could accomplish together?
- Indeed, can it be done?
I can’t find where Paul Velleman went after Left2Right shut down, but I don’t see anything via Google where he’s shaming Obama over his inauguration.
Facts are that the economy is worse, we’re still in wars, and there are horrific humanitarian situations occurring all over the world. So, one has to ponder why AP and many others felt so compelled to shame Bush in 2005 and extol extravagance for Obama in 2009.
It’s called bias. It’s not so much of an issue to me that it exists, as it pretty much always has, but how overt and blatant it has become. Do people really feel comfortable with a one-sided media telling them what is news?
Sheez, people kept desperately trying to make Bush and Cheney into an incarnation of Big Brother. Why can’t they see the obvious? If “news” is so willing to re-write history based on their political views, you’ve got Big Brother.
But, for what it’s worth, I supported Bush’s bash in 2005, and I’m all for Obama’s bash in 2009. It’s a feel-good event for the entire country whether you supported Obama or not. And, we need that as much now as we did in 2005.