Sunday, January 23, 2005

Inaugural Exuberance

Festivities GaloreMedia coverage of this past week’s inaugural festivities for the swearing in of then president-elect* George W. Bush dominated the airwaves – from the preparations to the post-event analysis. While I agree that he needs to be sworn in (or at), I don’t understand the need for all the hoopla.

Didn’t we just throw a party for him four years ago? Plus, we’re at war, as Bush is so wont to remind us. He won the election on his fear mongering, so it only seems fitting that he should scale back the celebration as other war-time presidents have done. Sure, you could argue that he actually won the election this time, but there just has be a better way to spend $40 million.

Making the ultimate sacrificeWhoa there cobra. Before you get all hot under the collar, I know that the principal costs of the festivities are being covered by private donors, not taxpayers. But what if Bush said that he would still show preferential treatment to his favorite lobbyists if the money they donated was used instead to better equip our troops in Iraq? That seems like a win-win situation to me, and I’m sure the troops wouldn’t mind.

I would also like to note that the estimated $40 million doesn’t include the estimated $17 million in added security costs for the inauguration – and that money does come from taxpayers. It’s just a hunch, but I bet that Washington D.C. could have used that money for something else that would actually benefit taxpayers. Feeding the homeless instead of a few egos seems like a much more noble cause.

Normally, I wouldn’t have an issue with spending some money on a lavish presidential inauguration. The pomp and circumstance comes from a long tradition in U.S. politics, and the American people do like to get “all patriotic” from time to time. Heck, I probably wouldn’t have such an issue with the fact that Dubbya’s two inaugurations were the most expensive in U.S. history if we weren’t at war. But, we are. All of this extravagance seems to fly in the face of the American soldiers who are dying nearly every day in Iraq.

Rock OnIn the end, perhaps it’s only fair. George Bush hasn’t asked the American people at large to make any sacrifices during this time of war, so why should he make any? But therein lies the problem. If this war is truly just, then I believe our government should be asking us to make sacrifices – not just our men and women in uniform. If taxes need to be raised to provide our soldiers with the proper protective gear, then so be it. Plus, raising taxes might encourage the American people to pay better attention to our foreign policy decisions.

As I step down from my soapbox, I would like to clarify that I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have celebrated, despite my own political leanings. I’m just saying that a little moderation was in order. OK, I’m done now.

*president-elect may not be the usual designation for a second-term president, but I think it’s appropriate since he wasn’t really elected last time