The following, found in the NYTimes today, makes you proud to be an American. The Second Inaugural of George W. Bush, despite the fact that a war is going on that has engaged some 138,000 troops (and killed how many now?), "the organizers say that the inaugural celebration at the end of the January will not be marked by any noticeable restraint and will cost more than any other in history."
Some $40 million is our understanding. Which is also why we're looking for our invitation every day. We stand out by the postal box, hopping back and forth, watching the horizon for our rural route deliverer to come round the bend, bearing glad tidings of a Star Rising in the East.
Instead, we get this crummy invitation to the Second Inaugural of Gov. Mike Easley instead. "The Governor of North Carolina" (and various hangers-on, like the Council of State) "request the pleasure of your company at the Inaugural Ball on Saturday, the Fifteenth of January, Two Thousand and Five." You know it'll be a swell affair, because the dates are all spelled out.
Prices for the Raleigh to-do range from $5,000, for a "Grand Benefactor," to $100 as a chintzy "Ball Guest." Plus "Ball Guests" will have to suffer the indignities of a "cash bar." Not to mention the mandatory "black tie." (Drat! Mine is out for alterations.) Checks are to be made out to the Junior League of Raleigh, which will pander hostesses for the event and will be celebrating 75 years "of fulfilling its mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers."
Seems like little money, really, to hang out with such a regular guy who so obviously enjoys the company of "the people."
El Presidente, meanwhile, is asking a little more in the way of baksheesh, without the annoying go-between of a volunteer outfit. According to the Times, tickets to all the official Bush inaugural events, including an elegant candlelight dinner at which El Presidente will make a passing wave ... $100,000. Or, significantly, you can upgrade to be closer to the real source of power and get into an "exclusive" lunch with V.P. Dick Cheney and get a pass to all the inaugural balls ... for a measly $250,000. The Times notes that "Bush fund-raisers have placed [that] $250,000 cap on donations to avoid seeming greedy."
And it worked! I didn't even hardly notice the greed.