George W. Bush has declared an emergency in and around Washington D.C. in anticipation of what is expected to be the record number of people who will be coming to town over the next several days to witness the inauguration of his successor, Barack Obama. Doing so "frees up" contingency funds that usually go toward hurricane relief or for other natural disasters. In this case that same money is going toward the inaugural celebrations. Providing for facilities is expected to cost the city $75 million and the state of Maryland, $12 million.
Quite a few things that could be observed about what this says regarding the American people and their government...
Admittedly, presidential inaugurations have always been a bit festive. Probably none on record was as wild as the one for Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 (his had Chief Geronimo among others: kinda hard to top that, folks). But at least for the better part of the past two decades, I've witnessed something revealed about our national character at large during the arrival of every new executive administration lately. Namely, the cult of regarding the President as something more than what the office is supposed to be. And that is, one of public servant. We have instead turned the Presidency into what should not be asked of it and should never be expected of it: practically the right hand of God Himself on this Earth.
As we have seen, there are certainly problems when the very weak men who come into this office, start to believe the hype.
I wrote four years ago when Bush was getting sworn in again that it should not cost anything for a new President of the United States to put his or her hand on the Bible, and swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. To that notion I hold also regarding Barack Obama. And Bush betrays how sincerely weak he is as a so-called "conservative" when he wastes the public treasury on perpetuating this folly... but then, wasting other people's money is the only thing that George W. Bush has ever known, so why should now be any different?
Perhaps there should be a law enacted that mandates no public funds for the festivities of swearing or affirming the oath of office. Who knows: with much less distraction, it might be an incentive for future Presidents to actually take their oaths far more seriously.