Sunday, January 18, 2009

Homeland Security and the Inaugural

Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff told CNN that Tuesday's presidential inauguration is the "largest and most complex security event in history."
An estimated 8,000 police officers will be on duty, along with almost a thousand FBI personnel, Transportation Security Administration screeners and others, including 10,000 National Guard troops. Chertoff said that another 20,000 members of the National Guard are being held in reserve.
Numerous press reports indicate that the Obama inauguration will be the most expensive in history predicted to reach over $150 million, far more than the $42.3 million spent on George Bush's inauguration in 2005, and the $33m spent on Bill Clinton's in 1993. In fact, President Bush has put the District of Columbia under a state of emergency to allow it access more federal money for inauguration-related security and transportation costs. Let's hope everything goes smoothly, but with the economy in the tank and workers losing their jobs right and left, does it at all seem like the amount of cash spent on inaugural activities and parties (whether the source is the public or private sector) is excessive? Four years ago, some lawmakers and various mainstream media outlets felt that the Bush inaugural was money not well spent. But apparently that was then, and this is now.
Despite the bleak economy, however, Democrats who called on President George W. Bush to be frugal four years ago are issuing no such demands now that an inaugural weekend of rock concerts and star-studded parties has begun....Four years later, the nation is still at war. Unemployment has risen sharply. And Obama pressed Congress to release the second half of a $700 billion bailout package in hopes of rescuing a faltering banking industry.
A history professor who has studied presidential inaugurations says "The Founding Fathers wanted very much for it to be a dignified occasion and to avoid any smack of royalty or coronation, but it's gradually become more lavish. People think whatever goes on now goes way back, but there's nothing permanent about it."