Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reflections of the Inauguration

A lot of my close friends and family are Republicans. Over the course of this last election period I have grown tired of the constant belittling and disrespect shown to our new President. It is also amazing the amount of half-truths and lies being circulated about what they THINK Obama MIGHT do, despite those ideas being in direct conflict with what he has SAID he WILL do. It seems that maybe we should give him the chance to screw up before criticizing him for potential mistakes.

Anyway, today I read a blurb from someone I am friendly with about how he finds Obama to be a hypocrite because he wants workers to cut back on their hours in order to give co-workers more hours, yet believes Obama has no problem spending in excess of $150 million on his inauguration. When I first read that I was a little concerned myself, so I was curious as to what other Presidents have spent, specficially Bush. Doing a little digging there are many sites that claim Bush only spent $40 million and used that as a platform to criticize Obama for wasteful spending. However, I dug a little further and this is what I found.

While many claim Bush only spent 40 million for his innauguration, here is why using $160 million number and comparing it with Bush's 2005 costs represents a classic apples-and-oranges assessment: For years, the press routinely referred to the cost of presidential inaugurations by calculating how much money was spent on the swearing-in and the social activities surrounding that. The cost of the inauguration's security was virtually never factored into the final tab, as reported by the press. The $40 million (Bush inauguration cost) does not include the cost of a web of security, including everything from 7,000 troops to volunteer police officers from far away, to some of the most sophisticated detection and protection equipment.
The question for the press then becomes: How much did the government spend on security for Bush's 2005 inauguration?

Buried in a recent New York Times article published one week before the controversy erupted over the cost of Obama's inauguration, the newspaper reported that in 2005, "the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers." You read that correctly. The federal government spent $115 million dollars for the 2005 inauguration. Keep in mind, that $115 million price tag was separate from the money Bush backers bundled to put on the inauguration festivities. For that, they raised $42 million. So the bottom line for Bush's 2005 inauguration, including the cost of security? That's right, $157 million.

Plus that doesn't count the 16 billion a month he has spent on the Iraq war. Talk about wasteful spending.

On a more positive note I had many wonderful conversations today with people who seem to be hopeful and optimistic. I realize, as do most, that Obama will not solve everything and I also realize there are many who just will never like him and will always find something to fault him for. To each his own. However, the historical significance of today's inauguration should not be lost on anyone: supporter or critic. It is an important day for our history and I am proud to have witnessed it.


Random Notes:
I had my daughter watch portions of today's festivities with me. She knows who the Obama's are as we have talked at length about them with her. She obviously does not understand the significance of this, but I am glad she was a part of it nonetheless because someday she will understand why this election was so historic and hopefully this will mark a turning point for our country. Anyway, I digress. There is a book we have been reading lately called Llama Llama Mad at Mama. My daughter now calls our President "Barack O'mama llama" and our First Lady "Michelle O'mama llama."

I pointed out George W. Bush during the swearing in and said he was our old President and Obama was going to be our new President. She said, "But Bush was our new President and now he is our old President?" I said, "yes." She then asked when Obama would be our old President. I told her hopefully not for another 8 years.

Michelle Obama came out wearing a gorgeous dress for one of the balls. When she came on stage my daughter asked, "Is she a princess?" I replied, "She looks like a princess doesn't she?" My daughter then asked, as Obama took his wife's hand, "Are they going to get married now?" I told her that they already were married to which she replied, "He is her Prince." My daughter relates all aspects of life to Disney Princesses.

So, what are your thoughts on the inauguration? Do tell.


Robyn said...

Good for you for digging to find out answers instead of just accepting what was told to you!

I think Obama is in an unenviable position. His inauguration speech has already been criticized - I thought it was great. Basically, the expectations are SO high, he is going to be criticized every step of the way. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing (I think he can handle it!), but only if he's criticized fairly and not based on untruths.

I'm excited. I'm hopeful. I'm so glad Obama is going to work today. (unlike Bush who took a bazillion vacation days soon after taking office).

Nancy said...

I have such faith in what Obama proposes for our nation.
IF WE WORK TOGETHER I think we can turn our nation around.
I loved his inauguration speech, I loved his speech on Saturday at the Philly train station. I think if we REALLY listened to what he was saying - if we really think back, look back to our forefathers and what they did and what their goals were we would be in a better place.
Your research is awesome!