Hail to the…

Hail to the…

: It’s remarkable what a nonevent the inauguration is. The Golden Globes is less staged. That’s not a political statement; it’s true of inaugurations of both parties. It is a formality. And we Americans do not rest on formality. We don’t have queens and coronations and May Days and national parades. Oh, sure, we should have the ceremony. But I think it would be far better if they’d just go and produce it for TV; make it an event of the nation, not of Washington.

What this means on a practical level is incredibly insipid TV. On FoxNews this morning, they kept interrupting the discussion to follow Bush et al walking into and out of the church service. Yes, he can walk. Well, I suppose in the age of The West Wing, that is news. They got all excited on Fox when Bush got near enough a mike to say something. “We got a ‘good morning’,” the anchor said. We got sound!

On CNN, Paula Zahn agreed that this is a “majestic day.” I’d say the word is cold.

Fox reporters Blackberried notes on the sermon this morning out to the anchor desk. They read it as it arrived: The minister told Bush to unite red and blue and said that we are all one nation: “black, brown, gay, straight.” Bravo, Rev. But it’s not going to make any difference.

Most of the day will look like a slo-mo TiVo view of an LA police chase. They drive here. They walk there.

Oh, breaking news: Wolf tells us that Bush is riding in a new presidential limo. It still has that four-more-years smell.

I’m not being cynical. Really, I’m not. Our form of government is the best there is. The transfer or continuation of power is our best accomplishment.

But this is all style, no substance.

: LATER: I’m watching Dan Rather’s coverage. He keeps coming back again and again to his speculation that there are often scandals in second administrations. Bob Shieffer says uncomfortably, “Well, I don’t think anybody’s going to jail.” Dan doesn’t drop it. “Second terms of presidencies are marked by scandal… Those kinds of things have a way of developing in a second term. Are the Bush people worried about that?” he asks colleague Roberts. Oh, sure, Dan, the administration’s spokesman are going to go into the confessional and fret about misbehaving. The big problem with Rather is not bias. It’s foolishness. Always has been.

: RANDOM STUPID MOMENTS: Larry King “interviewing” Oscar de la Renta on inaugural fashion. Old fart on old farts about old farts.

Larry says at 10p that it’s past the Command in Chief’s bedtime.

Now Bush and his wife dance with soldiers, he with a she and she with a he. It is the most awkward moment I’ve seen since my seventh grade dance.

: Stupid Fox line from Hannity & Colmes: “Laura Bush, what an asset.”

  • Ebb Tide

    If you want a really meaningful-yet-meaningless tradition of pomp and circumstance, watch the Opening of Parliament (Brits) on C-Span, people in wigs, a Queen with a crown, Black Rod knocking on the door to the House of Commons…. that’s fun stuff.
    Today’s proceedings? … well, it’s fun for those in power… let them have their fun. Kerry got 8 million more votes than Gore got in 2000… but GWB got 11 million more votes than he did in 2000.
    The people have spoken! Pass the caviar.

  • pdf

    >>The transfer or continuation of power is our best accomplishment.
    That might well be true, and it’s really sad if it is.

  • http://airwave64.blogspot.com Frank

    “But this is all style, no substance.”
    For $40 million it better have some style.

  • cb

    I see the inaugural festivities as patronage. A lot of it serves to reward the people who helped with the campaign.

  • Canuck in America

    -The transfer or continuation of power is our best accomplishment-
    Oh come on, plenty of nations do this just fine – the US is hardly unique in this respect. And while we’re at it, no, actually, your form of government is not ‘the best there is’ – there are plenty better. You’re just not allowed to think that :)

  • Lisa

    Trent Lott on CNN this morning in defending $40 million in costs for the inauguration: “This day is also honoring the men and women in the armed services.”
    Honor them by providing them the equipment, supplies, and planning they deserve!!! If we had put as much planning into the Iraq war as we have on the damn inauguration, we might be in a different place.
    Oh – and money for the inauguration security is coming out of D.C.’s homeland security budget.

  • paladin

    Yes Jeff, you are being cynical—–can’t you give it a rest for one day? This is a once-every-4-year happening. You knew what was going to happen—you didn’t have to watch did you? Then you complain about what happened, even though you knew what was going to happen, happened (?). You’re like someone watching pornography then complaining about all the nudity—–Jeez! gimme a break!

  • Seppo

    Jeff, what’s with all the gowns and guests and flowers and this hokey reception stuff for your daughter’s wedding? I mean, couldn’t the Justice of the Peace just get it over with in three minutes with just the bride and groom?
    Oh, this event is a major life passage with long term meaning for the couple and all the people whose lives touch theirs? Well, why didn’t you say so??
    Yep, maybe there is some deep social utility in some kinds of ceremony, boring though it may be to a lot of us living only in the here and now.

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    This is simply a sad day for everybody who voted for the other guy.

  • http://www.jeff_is_a_hypocrite.com Jeff’s Conscience

    Our form of government is the best there is.
    Nope. Our system put a guy in in 2000 who undisputably lost the popular vote by 500,000 votes. That’s not the best form of government there is.
    The transfer or continuation of power is our best accomplishment.

    I’ll give you that. 225 years with no problems is impressive.

  • tb

    Personally I’d be surprised if Bushes second term has any scandal. There was plenty of fodder in his first term for that, but nothing took (yet). I suspect the only way a scandal will take off is if he pisses off the right persons in his own party by over reaching or whatever, then we’ll see a tumble. Barring that I suspect that 4 years from now they’ll be trying to rename Reagan airport, Bush field. Maybe they’ll replace all the ten commandments in townhalls all over the south with Jesus Bush sculptures. I know he expects the Iraqi airfield to be renamed in his honor but looking more and more like he’ll be wiping the memory of that before his term is up.

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    re: Jeff’s conscience
    Good gravy, on the day of the inauguration 2004, some Democrats still can’t get over 2000! (Wait, why am I surprised?)
    I remember clear as a bell pre-2000, when Democrats were concerned that Gore might lose the popular vote, but were cheered by evaluations that showed him winning the electoral college vote, anyway. And Democrats expressed no concern at that time over ethical dilemmas concerning a hypothetical Gore electoral college win.
    With a Bush electoral college win, fate stepped in to show us what a bunch of hypocrites we can all be.
    And with that full knowledge, it is neither name-calling nor exaggeration to say: stop whining, you pathetic crybabies.

  • http://www.petetheelder.com Pete The Elder

    Carsonfire- I too remember hearing several liberals before the 2000 election telling me that Gore losing the popular vote would not matter as long as he won the electoral college vote. After the election they no longer liked the electoral college. Enough people thought that this scenario was likely that George Will wrote a column about it shortly before the 2000 election saying that even if Gore won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, that Republicans should accept the results because the electoral college was the best way to elect a president in our republic.

  • jeremy in NYC

    …even if Gore won the electoral college and lost the popular vote, that Republicans should accept the results because the electoral college was the best way to elect a president in our republic.
    Or perhaps they should accept the results because it’s currently the only way to elect a president in our republic (legally, anyhow).

  • http://www.drcookie.blogspot,.com JennyD

    I love it. I loved Reagan’s funeral too. I love the whole, all the ceremony. It is a celebration of the transfer of power, often. This is exceptional, that we live in a nation where rulers freely accept the loss of power by vote.
    yeah, second term is not a transfer. But that’s what it represents.
    BTW, according to a poster on Roger Simon’s blog, this inauguaral costs less the Clinton’s in terms of constant dollars averaged over time.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com oodja

    BTW, according to a poster on Roger Simon’s blog, this inauguaral costs less than Clinton’s in terms of constant dollars averaged over time.
    The complaint about the cost of this inaugural, as I understand it, is that such expenses are being rung up in a time of war. Previous wartime Presidents have had relatively somber and scaled-back affairs compared to those in times of peace. Thus it’s the gaucheness of lavish governmental spending during a national crisis and not the actual dollar amount which offends.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com oodja

    (And what’s with Bush supporters obsessively comparing everything that happens during this administration to the Clinton years? I don’t remember Clinton supporters doing that with Bush I and Reagan…)

  • ss

    “it’s the gaucheness of lavish governmental spending during a national crisis and not the actual dollar amount which offends”
    I call Bullsh*t. To you, it’s Bush that offends–endy story. All other claims to your alleged “offense” are rank opportunism.

  • kat

    Gee, then Canada has a really shitty form of government–the guy in charge gets voted in by two provinces and loses the popular vote everytime. Who has a better form of gov’t, that you refer to Canuck? The Liberals pay an illegal pizza man and underage illegal strippers for the vote–vote Liberal and get a Canadian passport. Terrorists love that too .

  • http://www.joe.com Jeff’s Conscience

    You guys miss the point. I am not crying over the loss of 2000. I’m merely pointing out that the system we have which does not elect national leaders by popular vote is not the best system in the world. Moreover, we have a little thing called the US Senate where certain states are underrepresented by over sixty times compared to the smallest states. If that were going on in other countries, we would call it for what it was — very unfair. People wonder why California and New York and Texas always have serious budgetary problems — go look up why they pay way more in federal taxes than they get back. It’s because the small states have an obscenely disproportionate amount of power re the big states.
    I don’t deny that (putting aside the whole fl. thing) Bush won his first presidency by the rules of the game, and that is fair. But that doesn’t mean we have the best rules of the game. I don’t see how that is arguable.
    If the situation were reversed in 2000, I would probably be happy Gore won, but I wouldn’t pretend that it was by the best rules in the world. Our electoral college system, and especially our Senate system, are seriously outdated, and the latter is going to cause some serious crises in this century. I don’t know how much longer a state of 35 million people is going to be happy being pushed around by states with less than a million people. . . .

  • John

    Rather is just reaching (regarding his “analysis”). He wants a scandal in Bush’s second term just so he can say “I told you so”. We know he still thinks Bush was babied in the guard. He’s convinced of that. Thats why his apology was so “sincere”. I dont like to wish my life ahead but the sooner Rather is out of the headlines, the better.

  • http://www.jeff_is_a_hypocrite.com Jeff’s Conscience

    We know he still thinks Bush was babied in the guard.

    Putting aside Rathergate, does anyone doubt that Bush was babied in the Guard? Come on now.

  • http://oodja.blogspot.com oodja

    “it’s the gaucheness of lavish governmental spending during a national crisis and not the actual dollar amount which offends”
    I call Bullsh*t. To you, it’s Bush that offends–endy story. All other claims to your alleged “offense” are rank opportunism.
    Thin-skinned much? I wasn’t offering my opinion, but an assessment of why some people are upset over the lavishness of this Inauguration. They could have spent a billion dollars on the party for all I care, but I find it interesting that even four years after Clinton left the Oval Office Bush and his supporters still feel the need to compare their administration against that of Clinton/Gore. I guess Clinton envy dies hard…
    Bush doesn’t offend me, friend, although a lot of the stupid shit he’s allowed to happen on his watch does. Unlike you I care more about my country than my political party. Just as I was uncomfortable with a good deal of what President Clinton did during his eight years, I’d like to think that conservatives might eventually admit just one mistake that their Glorious Leader might have made during the past four years of governance. Don’t worry, I’m not holding my breath!
    Until then, though, you can stuff your tired “Bush Hater” label in a sack.

  • Kat

    Bush was wrong when he proclaimed islam as a religion of peace. I don’t see moderate muslim condemning the fanatics. There, are you happy?

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    Jeff’s Conscience: I understand the distinction you’re making, but you leave one end of the equation open-ended. If this is not the best system, it follows that you then have to say which is better.
    It’s hard to take seriously charges of midwest “bullying” of the coasts. LA and NY already wield a considerable amount of influence, and the elimination of the electoral college would make us a nation ruled by LA and NY. The population of the midwest would be more or less reduced to serfdom… growing the nation’s crops, doing the heavy lifting, but marginalized as constituents.

  • pele

    Of course the real ceromony where Bush and Condoleezza Rice copulate furiously in the middle of a pentacle after drinking the blood of Muslim babies can’t be shown due to the pesky FCC…

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    Jeff, if you think you were put off by the emptiness of the inauguration ceremonies, note how hard it was for the inaugurated to find something he could talk about without looking too vacuous. So he declared himself ‘king of the world’.
    [Leonardo deCaprio isn't much of a model for a president.]
    David Broder’s editorial in today’s Post is worth notice for its expression of his confusion.

  • http://www.florida-cracker.org/ Donnah

    Laura Bush is an asset.

  • pele

    Take me on please. I have only a little education and live in a European country and think that America is not living up to it’s potential. Please think about all the comments you have made here on this wonderful blog over the last two years.