Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

January 20, 2005

Syllogistic Hypocrisy #3: Inauguration Costs

Filed under: — Different River @ 5:16 pm

Lots of people are complaining about the costs of the Bush inauguration (example here). The complaint is, basically, how dare Bush spend $40 million taxpayer dollars on an inauguration (as if he himself is spending the money) when there are children who need vaccines, tsunamis victims who need houses, a war in Iraq, etc. Some of the objections are summarized by Joseph Curl in in the Washington Times

Reuters news agency this week headlined a story, “Critics Say Bush Inaugural Too Lavish for Wartime,” then quoted one “critic,” Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, who complained that the estimated $40 million for the Bush-Cheney inauguration is extravagant.
The Associated Press moved a story that asked, “With that kind of money, what could you buy?” The answer, the wire service said: “200 armored Humvees … vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children … and a down payment on the nation’s deficit.”

Let’s put aside, for the moment, the fact that most of the spending is private contributions, not taxpayer dollars. In fact, except for security at the event itself, almost all the money is from private contributions. Some critics don’t know this; others say the private money would be better spend elsewhere.

In my previous posts here and here as the phenomenon of people an organizations claiming to favor or oppose X because of self-evident principle Y, but not applying principle Y to everything else, and in severe cases not applying principle Y to anything but issue X. Here, principle Y is “It’s bad to spend lots of money on trivial things,” and X is this particular inauguration.

Let’s see what to other issues we might apply that principle. For one thing, how about other inaugurations? Joseph Curl points out,

But 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.
According to the Consumer Price Index, $42 million in 1997 is the equivalent of $49.5 in 2004.

Were there any complaints about the extravagance of Clinton’s second inaugural? I don’t remember any. (But if there were, send me an e-mail or leave comments with a link.)

Oh, but that was not during a time of war. OK then, how about Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration in 1965, in the midst of the Vietnam War? Joseph Curl again:

President Johnson didn’t eschew pageantry in 1965, racking up a $1.6 million bill [1965 dollars, unadjusted for inflation] for inaugural festivities despite the Vietnam War, historian Robert Dallek told Reuters.

And what about other trivial expenditures? Like, movies, for example. Matt Drudge pointed out on his radio show last Sunday,

Just to put this into perspective, the 40 to 60 million dollars that they’re spending, do you know how much the cost of the movie Polar Express was? 160 million dollars. You could fit four inaugurations into just the cost of The Polar Express. All of the wild Dems making all these accusations that the Republicans are spending so much, oh how horrible this is, and there’s blood in the streets and homeless and all the rest. And a lot of these people are Hollywood folks pointing the fingers. You can almost hear Annette Benning backstage saying, the Bush inauguration is spending too much money, where’s my limousine?

So don’t start crying that oh, this is outrageous, when to make The Aviator cost three times the amount of the inauguration. Meet the Fockers cost twice as much as the inaugural. Who are these people pointing fingers at? Who are these people preaching at? Why are they lecturing us, when they are paying their stars as much as it costs to put on the inauguration for the entire country? How is this a story? Who is falling for this except for some disgruntled Bush-haters who cannot book a room in South Beach because it is already too crowded?

How about the news media? Drudge again:

ABC World News Tonight led with this story tonight [Sunday, 1/16/05], complaining about the inauguration. Do we really want to go into how much Peter Jennings is making? And Katie Couric signed a 200 million dollar agreement to stay at the Today Show. That would be five inaugurals total–what Katie Couric gets paid. It would not take long just to come up with the salaries at ABC News to cover the cost of one inaugural.

Does anyone know how much Peter Jennings has contributed to tsnuami relief — or more to the point, to Fisher House, which helps the families of wounded soldiers? It wouldn’t normally be any of our business, but he’s the one who raised the issue.

One Response to “Syllogistic Hypocrisy #3: Inauguration Costs”

  1. Dave Schuler Says:

    This flaplet is a great illustration of my complaint about too many Democrats: they just do not have their eyes on the prize. Who’s actually getting the money that’s being spent on the inauguration? As I mentioned in my own post this morning it’s not Wall Street fat cats, defense contractors, or well-heeled burueaucrats. It’s waiters, cooks, musicians, custodians, security guards, and a lot of other poor working stiffs who can use the money to feed their families.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress