Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What was Wrong is Now Right

In 2005 as we approached President Bush's inauguration Democrats criticized President Bush for spending about $42 million on his inauguration and the surrounding festivities.  Those criticizing the president believed that during a time of war, and economic difficulty the president needed to tone down the occasion.

In 2005, Reps. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., asked Bush to show a little less pomp and be a little more circumspect at his party.

"President Roosevelt held his 1945 inaugural at the White House, making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake," the two lawmakers wrote in a letter. "During World War I, President Wilson did not have any parties at his 1917 inaugural, saying that such festivities would be undignified."

The thinking was that, with the nation at war, excessive celebration was inappropriate.

These two representative were just the tip of the iceberg.  Here is an extensive list of liberals who criticized the "extravagance" of President Bush's inauguration.  The BBC even took the time to criticize President Bush on this point as well.  

Now as we look forward to the inauguration of the first black president, Barack Obama, it is expected to cost over $150 million.  This is four times what President Bush's 2005 inauguration cost.  If there ever was a time for the American people to be more frugal, it is now.  Unemployment is on the rise, financial institutions are failing, the stock market is in a bad shape, and the congress is working on its second massive bailout package.  In addition to this $150 million the federal government was forced to declare the event a federal emergency because of the number of people coming to D.C.  This opens up even more federal money to help cover the security costs of the event.

In response to criticism that the inauguration may be too costly, the inaugural committee spokeswoman said, "That is probably not the way the country is going to be looking at it.  It is not a celebration of an election. It is a celebration of our common values."  Is it really possible that if the country opposed a $42 million inauguration four years ago, it loves the idea of a $150 million inauguration in the present economic condition?

Maybe part of the change we can believe in this 21st century presidency is that what was wrong is now right.  If that is true though, how can you believe in something if it might be wrong a couple years down the road? 

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