Saturday, January 22, 2005

Inauguration Report

Quick Observant Observations from the 55th Presidential Inauguration, starring President George W. Bush, Vice-President Richard W. Cheney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William W. Rehnquist, First Lady Laura W. Bush and many more:

  • There was a disappointingly low number of hippies. Some of the Texans standing next to us noticed this as well.

  • Hippies were using professionally printed signs, what happened to paint and cardboard?

  • No word yet on who exactly was inaugurated by the counter-inauguration.

  • The much-complained-about security was much lighter than at an airport.

  • To help with the crowds, the Metro was running 6-car instead of 4-car trains. It didn't help much though, since tourists don't realize there's more than 2 cars they can get on.

  • During the inauguration, the spirited boos for John Kerry were much more noticeable than any protesters. Did the media even show that?

  • The evening ended with April & Nick's Pizza Ball, much more affordable and less crowded than the alternatives.
Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research has a good point about the costs of the inauguration:

Though I am oversimplifying in the service of brevity, there is more truth than fiction in the notion that money spent on inaugural festivities represents a transfer of wealth from big corporations and individuals of decent income to men and women who work for caterers, restaurants, hotels, the D.C. convention center, security firms, limousine services and printers, or who are taxi drivers or police officers on overtime.
The Washington Times reports that the Inauguration actually cost less than Clinton's:
a review of the cost for past inaugurations shows Mr. Bush's will cost less than President Clinton's second inauguration in 1997, which cost about $42 million. When the cost is adjusted for inflation, Mr. Clinton's second-term celebration exceeds Mr. Bush's by about 25 percent.
Critics also enjoyed comparisons to FDR's fourth inauguration, forgetting that it was followed a few months later by his death. Presidents Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon all had wartime inaugurations.

Update, Jan. 30: For anyone wondering how an event can cost $40 million, I found an incredible comparison yesterday: 2002's world poverty summit.

The "World Summit on Sustainable Development" in Johannesburg, South Africa cost roughly between 75 million and one billion dollars. Using the smallest number, which appears to be the South African government's share of the costs, simple math creates some interesting figures:
  • The poverty summit attracted around 37,000 people.

  • The Inauguration attracted more than 100,000 people.

  • The poverty summit cost at least $75 million.

  • The Inauguration cost at least $40 million.

  • So, the poverty summit spent almost twice as much money on one third as many people - or six times as much per person.

  • To make the Inauguration comparable to the lowest bound estimated costs of a poverty summit, it either would have cost more than $200 million or only 19,733 people could have attended.

  • On the upper bound, Inauguration costs would have ran around $3 billion or attendance would have been limited to 1,480 people.

Update, Feb. 14: A handful of my own Inauguration photos are now available here.


April said...

It was also really cold.

April said...

And yet no outrage from the hippies over the cost of the summit. Did I even know there was a world summit?

Nick said...

I remember hearing about it - people from all over the world went to Africa to eat expensive food and talk about poverty. It was somewhere between a scandal and a joke.