Inaugural overkill

NY magazine's John Heilemann offers a spot-on lament of Obama’s inaugural excesses. He’s one of only a few folks who have been questioning the overkill - or haven't you heard that the total cost of this thing is running north of $125 million? (Bush's 2005 inaugural cost just $42 million, and the liberals were going ballistic over that.) Nothing against our new president, but a little proportionality is in order. I mean, aren’t we in the worst economic mess since the 1930s?

If Obama were really "serious" about changing Washington, former House majority leader Tom DeLay said the other day, "he would announce to the world: 'We are in crisis, we are at war, people are losing jobs; we are not going to have this party. Instead, I'm going to get sworn in at the White House. I'm going to have a nice little chicken dinner, and we'll save the $125 million.'" For all the obvious reasons, it troubles me to write the following words ... but DeLay has at least half a point. Not that Obama should have denied himself (and his supporters) a bit of grandeur and merry-making, but the kind of party his inaugural planners cooked up doesn't really suit either the grim times the country is facing or Obama's style.

Also noted in the Heilemann piece was Saturday's contrived whistle-stop tour between Philly and D.C.

The aim here was to echo Lincoln, but, as CQ's Craig Crawford noted, "If Lincoln had done what Obama did — embrace the memory of past presidents by emulating their mode of transportation — Old Abe would have already been in Washington, but then boarded a train to Philadelphia, returning on a horse." (Even sillier in the be-like-Lincoln department: The menu at Obama's post-inaugural lunch features foods — seafood stew, duck, pheasant — that the sixteenth president is thought to have enjoyed.) The concert on the mall on Sunday was a snooze. And the balls on Tuesday night promise to be as opulent and pointless as they always are.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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