January 17 2017
Quote of the Day:
A modest inauguration is much more in keeping with our democratic form of government.
--Charlie Peters at NRO
Although Donald Trump, who becomes president on Friday, will be our second celebrity president, other celebs are shunning his inauguration. So far, the big names are the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Brit-born journalist Charlie Peters comments on this scant celebrity line-up:
Let’s hope it stays that way, because Trump is accidentally doing something conservative. As conservatives, we prefer the executive to govern in a restrained and grounded manner, not rule under the impression of regality. In order to maintain this kind of governance, reducing the grandeur and cost of state events is necessary.
Inaugural traditions should remain limited so that we, and the new president, can focus on the crucial value they represent: the smooth continuation of leadership of a republic. Rampant celebration of a new leader threatens to dilute this value and allow new presidents to consider themselves as something more than servants of the people.
Peters observes the evolution of the inaugural festivities:
Almost all aspects of the Inauguration Day events have undergone a transition over the decades from limited, sensible processes to celebrations of pomp and extravagance. The first inaugural parade to take place in Washington was Thomas Jefferson’s in 1801. Jefferson walked from his boardinghouse to the Capitol, joined by a company of riflemen from Alexandria, Va., and “fellow citizens.”
In 1953, the year of Eisenhower’s inauguration, the parade had ballooned to an absurd affair involving 73 bands, 59 floats, elephants, horses, and civilian and military vehicles. Inauguration Day is far from the only presidential event that has become financially excessive and eulogizing.
Trips abroad for the president and those associated with his office are eye-wateringly expensive. Ferried around like a king, George W. Bush during his time as president billed the taxpayer $2 billion for transportation. Michelle Obama’s two-day trip to Ireland in 2013 cost close to $8 million.
A friend sent me the timeline (courtesy Mount Vernon) for George Washington's inauguration in New York, "a grand historical event, attended by hundreds." It features a military salute at Fort George at sunrise, ringing of bells for half an hour, a military escort for Washington to Federal Hall (where both houses of Congress awaited the oath-taking), Washington's taking the oath, an inaugural address, divine worship at St. Paul's Episcopal Church (a Te Deum, the traditional Christian hymn of thanksgiving, was sung), and then George Washington took a carriage to the Presidential Mansion (where he dined alone). There were fireworks in the evening.