Mr. Gunn is referring to the upcoming inaugural celebrations for President-elect Obama next Tuesday evening. Despite the dismal economy, continuing disturbances in the Middle East and talk of sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, the word is that glitz and pageantry are in. At some $45 million dollars, this is set to be the most expensive inaugural. Evah.
Yet four years ago, the AP was singing a different tune. The nation faced similar difficulties as we do now, but many in the press suggested that it would be in poor taste for Bush to hold a lavish inaugural celebration.
Here's an excerpt from the AP story in January 2005:
President Bush’s second inauguration will cost tens of millions of dollars — $40 million alone in private donations for the balls, parade and other invitation-only parties. With that kind of money, what could you buy?
■ 200 armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq.
■ Vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami.
■ A down payment on the nation’s deficit, which hit a record-breaking $412 billion last year....
The questions have come from Bush supporters and opponents: Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?
New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, suggested inaugural parties should be scaled back, citing as a precedent Roosevelt's inauguration during World War II.
"President Roosevelt held his 1945 inaugural at the White House, making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake," according to a letter from Weiner and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. "During World War I, President Wilson did not have any parties at his 1917 inaugural, saying that such festivities would be undignified."...
I actually think this is a time for celebration, not chicken salad. Obama's inauguration is an unprecedented historic event in our nation's history, and he (and our country) deserve to celebrate. So this isn't about Obama being inappropriate--it's about the behavior, the hypocrisy of our press corps.
This is the kind of stuff they are reporting today:
"Just because the economy is in a downturn, it doesn't mean that style is going to be in a downturn," agreed Ken Downing, fashion director for Neiman Marcus.
And if anyone does raise an eyebrow at those sequins, remind them that optimism is good for times like these. "Just say you're doing it to help the economy," chuckled good manners guru Letitia Baldridge.
For some reason, this brings to mind one of my favorite quotes by John Lennon, from a performance before the Royal family in 1963:
For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry.