In January 2005, I posted pictures contrasting the extravagant second inauguration of George W. Bush with the suffering of soldiers in Iraq. Bush’s 2nd inauguration cost somewhere between $40 and $50 million. Later that month, I gasped in shocked disdain at the $250 million price tag, spent over 4 years, of the Bush administration’s effort to promote its policies.
It therefore bears mentioning that the first inauguration celebrating the new presidency of Barack Obama is estimated to cost $150 million. Much of this extravagance will not be dedicated to the comfort of people on the street. Most people will be herded into standing-only spaces in the cold and shut in for hours without access to vendors of food or drink. Those in the elite inside circle will be treated to a three-course meal cooked up by what Senator Dianne Feinstein calls the “very best that the Washington catering establishment has to offer.” On the menu: “seafood stew served with Duckhorn Vineyards, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley… a brace of American birds (pheasant and duck), served with sour cherry chutney and molasses sweet potatoes; served with Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley… apple cinnamon sponge cake and sweet cream glace served with Korbel Natural ‘Special Inaugural Cuvee,’ California Champagne.”
I don’t think this is the right tone or level of expense for an Inauguration taking place on the lip of an economic depression.