Now, don't get me wrong (again) ... I'm not against Obama or the inauguration plans. Just wondering where all these voices are now. Fair treatment?
Critics are calling on U.S. President George W Bush to scale back the glittering multimillion dollar parties planned this week in honor of his second-term inauguration, saying lavish festivities are unseemly at a time of war.
Bush is to be sworn in Thursday and feted with four days of pomp and party-going at a price tag of about $40 million.
An unprecedented military presence and other security measures will add another $100 million to the cost, to pay for everything from police overtime wages to reviewing stands stretching from the U.S. Capitol building to the White House.
But critics insist that with U.S. troops dying daily in Iraq, the tone surrounding this year’s inaugural celebration should be more modest.
“I would have hoped they would have followed the traditions of President Wilson and President Roosevelt, who at a time of war had a very muted celebration,” said Democratic Representative Robert Menendez, speaking on CNN.
“I think when young men and women are dying we should think about the reality of how we conduct ourselves here at home.”
His comments echoed those of Democratic Representative Anthony Weiner, who, in a letter to Bush, urged the president to redirect some of the $40 million “towards a use more fitting to these somber times — bonuses or equipment for our troops.”
Inaugural committee officials however, point out that the theme of the inaugural fete — “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service” — already honors the U.S. military, as well as the president’s role as commander-in-chief.
Bush told reporters last week he sees no problem with either how the money is raised or how it is spent, noting that it has all been raised with private donations.
“There’s no taxpayer money involved in this,” the president said, brushing aside calls that some of the funds be channeled to South Asia for tsunami relief.
“A lot of the people who are coming here to the inauguration have given” to tsunami victims, Bush said.
“I think it’s important to celebrate a peaceful transfer of power. I’m looking forward to the celebration,” he told reporters.