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Jan. 20, 2005

An excessively extravagant inauguration

by Alex Mazerov, Page Editor
This week, the Bush administration will spend an estimated $40 million in private funds on festivities surrounding the president's second inauguration. These celebrations include, but are certainly not limited to, nine official balls, many unofficial affairs, a youth rock concert, a parade and a fireworks display. In light of recent world events, Bush should scale back the resplendently lavish plans to commemorate his reelection.

The federal government has stuck the cash-strapped District of Columbia with much of the tab for inaugural security costs. For the first time in history, D.C. will be forced to cover all of its police expenses for this week's festivities, about $17 million in all. To pay for everything, the city has to drain its own tax funds and divert $11.9 million in federal grants earmarked for other homeland security requirements. As it has in the past, the federal government should reimburse the District for its security services. Inaugurations are, after all, a federal responsibility.

Given the tsunami tragedy in Southeast Asia and Africa that claimed over 150,000 lives and that fact that American troops are dying almost daily in Iraq, Bush should have followed the precedent set by wartime President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As he was sworn in during a time of unspeakable peril in the world, FDR decided to take the oath of office in a simple ceremony at the White House. No extravagant parties or magnificent parades followed his brief 1945 inaugural address. Just propriety.

If the president wants to demonstrate America's sensitivity for the world to see, he should redirect much of the $40 million raised largely from special interest groups to tsunami relief organizations. Or to the Pentagon, so it can provide troops in Iraq with the body and vehicle armor they so desperately need.

Mr. President, give your speech to thousands on the Capitol steps, take the oath from Judge Rehnquist, but don't dishonor the people who lost their lives in one of the worst natural disasters in modern history or the valiant soldiers who gave their lives fighting for freedom by holding an inappropriate and excessively luxuriant celebration of your victory in November.

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  • let's put this in perspective on January 17, 2005 at 10:58 AM
    You can't compare these times to World War II. You just can't. It borders on the manipulative, quite frankly, to lead people to believe that these times and those are in any way similar to one annother. Lest we forget: by 1945 over a quarter-million Americans had died in combat.

    Additionally, Washington, DC is federal property, and its budget is ratified each year by a federal board. The money is theirs to spend. The issue at stake, therefore, isn't the extravagence of the Bush administration, but the absence of DC home rule. An editorial about the inequity of current DC home rule would have made for a bit less misleading piece.
  • Disagree on January 17, 2005 at 10:59 AM
    It isn't the president that decides on what celebrations there are. Instead, it is the Congress. At FDR's time, there were millions of Americans fighting in WW2. However, in Iraq, there are only hundreds of thousands.
  • asda on January 17, 2005 at 2:38 PM
    Maz is a pimp...congrats on EIC (ed in cheefizzle)
  • Digusted on January 17, 2005 at 3:34 PM
    War or no war, this is disgusting. There is a huge deficit, social security is in jeopardy and a gigantic tsunami has devestated much of the eastern world, and congress thinks that it is really ok to spend 40 million on a flipping inaguration? How is that ok?? And, no one can say that this is just bitter liberals, because if Kerry was spending 40 million on his inaguration, i would still be outraged. It is a gigantic "nah ne nah ne booh booh we beat yooou" to the losing party in the election and it is disgusting. It makes me ashamed to be an American.
  • fsakjfhjasruoawy on January 17, 2005 at 4:54 PM
    well...i do think that bush is spending a bit too much on his inaugration and that there are other pressing issues that he should be concerned with, but writing this article won't change his mind.
  • anonymously moderate on January 17, 2005 at 7:58 PM
    I think you are taking for granted the fact that Bush needs an insane amount of protection. If you were bush, when half the country hates your guts and is lining the streets to protest, you would want protection.

    Im sureifone found the breakdown of expenditures, it would show that bush is spending on proecton.
  • 06 on January 17, 2005 at 8:00 PM
    " It is a gigantic "nah ne nah ne booh booh we beat yooou" to the losing party in the election"

    You're absolutely correct. And you can bet your bottom dollar the Democrats would have done the same thing.
  • needless on January 17, 2005 at 8:53 PM
    i couldn't have put it better alex. Regardless of your political stance it is clearly obvious that this is both a waste of funds and cruel and unusual punishment for DC. Making DC pick up the tab for a republican is like texas funding a democrat inauguration. It's not fair to them. And besides, DC has problems of its own. The taking of advantage being done by the government is apalling.
  • Wow on January 17, 2005 at 9:17 PM
    I guess a lot of you, including the author of this opinion, don't realize that the $40 million is PRIVATE money. Meaning taxpayers are not paying for the inauguration and therefore really have no right to get their panties in a bundle.
  • : on January 17, 2005 at 9:46 PM
    I don't remember all this hullabaloo in 1996, when Clinton inauguration costs went through the roof despite the fact that over 200,000 Serbians and Croations were in the course of being killed in the Balkan Civil War.
  • 06 on January 17, 2005 at 10:40 PM
    to Wow:
    read the first sentence again--"This week, the Bush administration will spend an estimated $40 million in PRIVATE funds on festivities surrounding the president's second inauguration" (my empahsis)-- read more carefully before you criticize next time
  • Alex Mazerov (View Email) on January 17, 2005 at 10:50 PM
    To ":"
    According to The Washington Post, President Clinton spent significantly less on his second inauguration ($23.7 million) than on his first ($33 million). I don't recall the costs "going through the roof."
  • hey stupid on January 17, 2005 at 10:58 PM
    This was DC homeland security money. DC wasn't allowed to spend this money on "problems of its own."
  • Antichrist on January 18, 2005 at 9:37 AM
    "should redirect much of the $40 million raised largely from special interest groups to tsunami relief organizations"

    idiot. he can't "redirect" PRIVATE funds to pay for something the people who donated them didn't approve of. Take your socialist clap-trap to another soapbox. If people want to throw a party with their own money, let them or give me your money.
  • dahandles on January 18, 2005 at 2:02 PM
    bush is an idiot to spend so much on an inauguration. You're the president already, okay? You don't need to flaunt your stuff.
  • George Will on January 18, 2005 at 2:30 PM

    From armin:

    Could it be that FDR had a low-key inauguration BECAUSE HE WAS 3 MONTHS AWAY FROM DEATH?
  • sigh on January 18, 2005 at 4:12 PM
    typical liberal bias in the's a pity that this purported number 1 high school news paper in the country has the same flaw as every other paper in the country...
  • republicansugar on January 18, 2005 at 4:21 PM
    Im sure if you were President, you would want a party too... Besides, give the man a break, half the country hates him, and if half the country hated me, I'd definitely throw a party for the half that liked me a little more lavishly too.
  • Disagree on January 18, 2005 at 5:00 PM
    Other presidents have spent much more on their inaugurations. It is disgusting 06 on how you are saying that Bush is saying a "nah ne nah ne booh booh we beat yooou." It is actually the exact opposite now that democrats are picking on the winners of the election.
  • :^() on January 18, 2005 at 5:07 PM
    I agree with Wow. If you want to, criticize the special interest groups for giving their money to this when they could have given it to the tsunami relief efforts, or criticize the American political system for creating an atmosphere where there are groups that give money to extravagant celebrations rather than to more constructive efforts, but don't criticize the government for using money from private donors the way the donors wanted it to be used.
  • Anonymous on January 18, 2005 at 5:25 PM
    "I don't remember all this hullabaloo in 1996, when Clinton inauguration costs went through the roof despite the fact that over 200,000 Serbians and Croations were in the course of being killed in the Balkan Civil War. "

    Exactly, I think its sick how people pick and choose which events they want to bring up to support their side.
  • principled pragmatist on January 18, 2005 at 6:13 PM
    Liberals have recommended rolling back private expenditures on the inauguration because of the instability and strife in the world. But has a single one of them recommended cutting public funds for the Clinton library, an even worse boondoggle than the inauguration? No.

    It seems those of a liberal bent don't want to spend a few million dollars to protect the sitting president. But would you all take away the secret service agents gaurding vice president Al Gore at the taxpayer's expense, simply because the world is a dangerous place and we should have higher priorities? I doubt it. A lot of this is predicated on Bush hatred.

    Also, it's ridiculous in my mind that this has garnered more attention than the recent peace treaty in the Sudan. The United States helped to diplomatically settle the worst human rights atrocity on earth before casualties reached the high 10,000s, and did so without putting a single American soldier in harms way. The fact that the administration did this despite Chinese obstructionism on the U.N. security council is all the more extraordinary.
  • Armin Rosen on January 18, 2005 at 7:33 PM
    No. I believe George Will wrote that comment.
  • come on now on January 18, 2005 at 9:04 PM
    To everyone who disagrees with this article: read it or shut up. He didn't criticize "the government," he criticized Bush. Principled pragmatist: it would be pragmatic for you to learn critical reading skills before you graduate. Alex didn't suggest that we should divert security funds away from protecting the President. He just said that the federal government should pay for it.

    Personally I agree with Alex. Bush is just an arrogant, rich white panty-waist who tries to act tough like he's from Texas, only he's from the East Coast and he went to Yale and he's never had to work hard a day in his life for anything. Now he is throwing himself a huge party as if he deserves congratulations for something. Hello? Why should you throw yourself a party when all you do is go on vacation anyway? This is another example of Bush shoving it in everybody's face that he is rich, all his friends are rich, and he can be a rich elitist pig and still get idiot "Christian" fundamentalists to vote for him because he has "morals."
  • principled pragmatist on January 18, 2005 at 10:21 PM
    And DC belongs to who? The federal government. They're already paying for it. To object to DC spending money on security for this thing because you want the fedearl government to pay for it is a pretty rediculous thing to say, seeing as how one is an offshoot of the other.
  • to principled pragmatist on January 19, 2005 at 10:43 AM
    Look, D.C. has a budget approved by the "fedearl" government, but it is still a budget, meaning a limit to how much money there is to spend. If the "fedearl" government forces D.C. to spend a portion of its limited budget on security for the president, then D.C. will have less money to spend on other things, according to the laws of artithmetic. To compensate, the "fedearl" government could approve an increase in D.C.'s budget equal to the amount spent on security, or "reimburse" D.C. The "fedearl" government has done this in the past. The "fedearl" government is not doing this now. Therefore, D.C. is forced to cut into its budget, whether the "fedearl" government approved it or not. What is "rediculous" here is your utter lack of comprehension of a pretty basic situation.
  • sigh on January 19, 2005 at 12:34 PM
    to come on now, if he is critizing Bush, maybe he should change his target, it is the government that makes the decisions
  • principled pragmatist on January 19, 2005 at 1:31 PM
    It doesen't matter. It's still the federal government's to spend. And remember: DC can only spend money from its homeland security fund on homeland security, which, by the way, includes securing a high-profile national event. It's a pretty basic situation.
  • mag05 on January 19, 2005 at 3:56 PM
    Um, this is PRIVATE money, not DC's money. Why do you care if some company wants to spend money for our country?

    And to "to principlec pragmatist", wow, you were able to notice somebody's typo. Don't you feel smart. Next time learn from somebody's mistake and don't repeat it.
  • Jackie H on January 19, 2005 at 10:07 PM
    So what if Bush wants to celebrate his reelection?
    Also, if you're so concerned with the tsunami relief effort, why don't you write an article about how more Hollywood stars should donate their money to the fund? BTW, while Bush gets paid $250,000/yr for leading the nation, Hollywood stars get paid maybe 20x more than he does, and that's just for acting in movies or singing and other forms of entertainment.
  • 06 on January 19, 2005 at 10:25 PM
    to Jackie H: Bush gets paid $400,000 from the federal government annually. But that's only a fraction of what he really makes every year in speeches, public appearances, etc. Many Presidents, including Bush Sr, have donated their entire federal salaries to charity because they have numerous other sources of income. And celebrities have donated a ton to tsunami charities. But you're right, they still should give more.
  • Sebastian Johnson (View Email) on January 20, 2005 at 9:46 AM
    I don't know if this has been brought up, but all Inauguration ceremonies are planned months in advance without even knowing who the president will be. The president-elect has nothing to do with the inauguration except the speech.
  • Wow on January 20, 2005 at 10:44 AM
    Yea, I think my point was pretty clear "06." Private groups give money to the inauguration because they are excited. If $40 mil of public money was being spent, I would agree with the author. However, instead the money is just people (or corporations) supporting a party that happens every four years. The fact is if Kerry were elected, the same money would have been spent, but this article wouldn't've been written.
  • brad on January 20, 2005 at 11:18 AM
    I hardly think protecting our President, and the people who come out to hear him, from danger is extravagant. And as you said $17 million alone is being provided for security. Not for extravagance.
  • Michael Thomas on January 20, 2005 at 11:37 AM
    The millions being spent on security are public money from DC's homeland security fund, NOT private money. Also, this security will only benefit Bush's pre-approved, ticket holding supporters, as they will be the only ones allowed close enough to hear him speak.
  • Alex Mazerov (View Email) on January 20, 2005 at 5:18 PM
    To clarify for everyone:
    The $40 million discussed in the article is entirely separate from security costs. This money is being spent only on the festivities surrounding the Inauguration (fireworks display, balls, parade, renting out MCI Center and the Convention Center, etc.)
  • A Person on January 23, 2005 at 2:05 PM
    principlec pragmatist,
    You're right, the $17 million DC is being forced to cough up does come from federally provided homeland security funds, and can only be spent on security. But the fact that DC's security fund is being drained to pay for the inaguration means that it'll have to use district taxpayer's money to pay for long term, more important security costs that the $17 million was originally ment to go to.

    And Sebastian,
    I'm not sure you're right. I checked out the Inaguration Committee's website a few weeks ago, and, if I remember correctly, it had a lot of links to the republican party. There is a seperate Senate inagural committee, maybe that's the non-partisan one that makes the initial preparations.
  • it doesn't matter on January 25, 2005 at 6:57 PM
    inauguration is something that happens for every president. Just 'cause you hate bush doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with people spending money on it. if kerry was elected, there wouldn't be this much debate on the cost of the inauguration.
  • be realistic on January 26, 2005 at 5:41 PM
    to "it doesn't matter" and everyone else who said there wouldnt be this much debate if kerry were elected...

    if kerry were elected and he had an inaugural party as extravagant as bush's, i wouldnt be surprised if every republican in the country tried to blame him. these last two elections have essentially split the world in half. when one side wins, the other side is bitter and does their best to point out faults in their opposition. of course its easy for someone supporting bush to say that if kerry was elected, no one would say anything, because right now, there is no way for us to know. kerry wasnt elected, unfortunately, and we will never know the absolute truth. that statement only serves to put down kerry supporters. that can be expected when democrats and republicans oppose each other so severely.

    however, whether bush or kerry were in office, i would still be extremely concerned that $40 mil be spent on a party when our society and the world around is in this particular condition. what it comes down to is that the u.s. has developed an arrogant image. bush's inauguration party sends a message to other nations that 'we've got the money, so why not go all out.' this arrogance demonstrates the u.s.'s blindness to the importance of a strong network of allies and friends. if we flaunt our 'success' in everyone else's face, how do you expect them to react? it does not matter who spent the money. the core issue is that the money was spent, and it was spent on a party.

    bush has been promoting his mission to essentially rid the world of its terrorists and be the world’s savior. but in this ‘mission’ i believe that we have created more enemies (and terrorists) than we have created a ‘safer’ world. we have a counterintuitive approach. we want the world to love us for our noble, altruistic mission to create a safe society and then our president parties all night long in an excessively ostentatious party.

    i don’t disagree that the president should be able to celebrate his election to office, even though i disagree with bush’s policies and ideas. but that doesn’t change the fact that the party flaunted an unnecessary level of arrogance. Some people commented that it was not bush who spent money, so he should not be blamed. But for someone with such ‘compassionate and selfless’ plans, shouldn’t he be able to speak up and say that spending this much money on a party is wrong at this time? hes supposed to be a president. a president should be capable of making decisions. just because someone else may have paid for the party, that doesn’t stop bush from talking. if he was truly concerned about anyone but himself, he could have made a simple statement.
  • Angry Bob (View Email) on February 28, 2005 at 10:41 AM
  • Angry Bob (View Email) on February 28, 2005 at 10:41 AM
    this is stooooooooopid
  • frugal chick on May 2, 2005 at 11:03 PM
    No matter who is elected or re-elected president it is inappropriate for them to throw a huge extravaganza at the expense of taxpayers. I love how the Bush supporters try to use "what if" senarios when it comes to this argument: What if John Kerry were elected, then you would..." stop right there! You don't know, you have no CLUE what Kerry would have done about DC's city budget. You're ASSUMING the answers. Bad move. If Kerry did that to Washington DC, I would be just as upset at him. God, the Bush supporters who use that argument are just spineless! They can't bring themselves to just say that overspending other people's money on a huge party rather than homeland security is wrong. Maybe the Bush supporters happen to think that Washington DC doesnt need that money for homeland security! But I thought that that was the main reason that you re-elected Bush was to feel safe?! Oh, that's right, you don't LIVE in Washinton DC. You're kids don't go to the run-down schools here. I understand now. I think the Bush supporters are very confused about reality. They do not possess the ability to think logically about situations that involve their FAVORITE president. The diety. The all-mighty. You use the same kind of faith you have in God on your favorite president: "Just Trust Me."

    Maybe if W spent your city's tight budget on a huge party for himself you would think twice about making imaginary hypothetical situations about Kerry. WWKD? Oh, sorry WWWD.
  • sharky on July 1, 2005 at 8:49 PM
    President bush, is a waste of space, he has not done one good thing since he has been President, he has lied too and conned the American people. the war on Iraq was based on lies, He spent so much money on him self that could have gone too something better, He doesnt give enough aid too thoes why need it. Time and time again he said there was WMD's in Iraq and time and time again he linked the Iraqie people too 9/11 Both lies! He didnt sign the kyoto treaty eather. Will he release the dept for Africa? probaby not.. It is little known FACT that he new about 9/11 before it happened, and it is theory that he cheated his way into being elected. the second time, I was the stupidity of the American peoples fault. -Sharky
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