Michelle Cottle isn't worried about the inaugural bill:
...this inauguration is going to be more expensive than past ones. That said, the cost comparisons with the Bush 2005 festivities ($42 million for Bush vs. somewhere between $125 and $160 million for Obama) are beyond useless, in part because the Bush numbers being bandied about don't include security costs (which account for the bulk of the bill at these affairs) and in part because the security and logistical needs for welcoming back a garden-variety second-term president are of course going to be vastly smaller than those for the first swearing in of--altogether now!--the first black president in the nation's history. Nowhere close to half a million people attended Bush's second inaugural. Washington has been bracing for somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 million for this year's event. The number of port-a-potties alone causes the mind to reel.
As for the idea that the entire inaugural spirit should focus "not on celebration but on civic engagement": bollucks. No matter how ominous the economic outlook, the inauguration of a new president is something to celebrate. And, yes, that is all the more true because of the "historic nature" of this particular president. (Translation: OMG! Can you believe we finally elected a black guy!) In addition to feeling the burden of the nation's current situation, the Obama people are keenly aware of the widespread, pent-up desire to celebrate this day with all of the "ridiculousness" that this country can muster. The entire globe is watching. We should not shortchange the moment.
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