Dear President-Elect Obama….

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:58 pm

(Man, I just can’t say that enough!)

Like many Americans, I watched the election returns on November 4th with a mixture of anticipation and dread. When the Presidential race was called for you, both my wife and I had tears in our eyes. We just couldn’t wrap our minds around it. The promise of finally moving away from the suffocating policies of the Bush administration, combined with tangible evidence of an epochal shift in the fabric of our society, was almost too much to bear. We were, to put it mildly, elated.

You have many hard tasks ahead of you, and other less difficult, more pleasurable ones as well. One of the latter will be the planning for your inaugural celebration.

This promises to be a jubilee that will be remembered for years, perhaps generations to come. My wife and I plan to hold a combined inauguration day/birthday party for myself and a few other friends whose birthdays fall on or around January 20 (thanks in advance for the lovely birthday gift; you got me exactly what I wanted!). I’m sure that similar festivities will occur nation- and even worldwide, which accurately reflects the sense of relief and renewed purpose your ascension to the highest office in America brings to so many of your fellow citizens.

However, while it is only meet that those who feel this way gather and celebrate this momentous occasion, I would also like to suggest that your own festivities be carried out with a measure of circumspection and, dare I say it, frugality.

This is a rough moment in the timeline of the United States. We are a nation at war; we suffer from economic hardship that may evolve into a financial cataclysm. The US is divided economically, politically, socially and racially into disparate camps. And while some of this may change drastically by the dawn of 2009—possibly even for the better—there is a good chance that the situation will be markedly similar to what we face today.

In light of this, I would urge you to eschew the lavish hoopla that has been the hallmark of previous inaugural ceremonies of late. I was particularly put off by President Bush’s 2005 celebration, the cost of which topped out at approximately $50 million….in the midst of two wars. Such surfeit in the face of a war debt which at that time totaled over $200 billion was—well, frankly, inexcusable.

Your administration is slated to inherit the chaos, the massive debt and the broken policies of the Bush years. Personally, I think you and your team are up to the task of helping to put America back on track, and I hereby pledge to do my part. But I think it would make a great impression on the citizenry if you were to keep the glitz and spectacle of the inauguration to a minimum.

As my mother-in-law put it as we discussed this over lunch yesterday, “You can have a huge party without racking up a huge bill.”

Your situation is often compared to that of Franklin Roosevelt as he took office in the midst of the Great Depression. I don’t feel competent to measure that comparison, but I would suggest that you instead look to Roosevelt’s 1945 inauguration for inspiration. In the twilight of World War II, amidst economic privation, FDR chose to restrict the festivities to a small party on the balcony of the White House, with a menu of chicken salad and pound cake.

President-Elect Obama (hee hee, that even feels good to type!), I don’t think you need to restrict your celebration to a small garden party on the White House lawn. Your election is a seminal event in the history of the United States, and everyone who has a mind to should feel free to whoop it up as much as they want. Maybe the difference between your inaugural merrymaking and those of previous presidents could take the form of, say, refusing to attend or acknowledge any parties sponsored by large corporations. In 2005, dozens of companies donated the legal maximum of $250,000 each to sponsor parties and gala events for the week of the inauguration. Perhaps you could make a public request that the companies lined up to do the same for you keep their donations, and urge same to save their money for more important things. Like job retention, for instance, or employee health insurance.

I think such a gesture from you would set exactly the right tone for the start of your term(s) in office. It would show the scornful and the mistrustful that you are prepared to walk your talk. And it would help to galvanize the resolve of those of us who look to you for real change, further confirming that you mean what you say, and that we all ought to follow your example.

Whatever choices you make regarding the inauguration, I offer you my heartfelt congratulations, and wish you all the best in the coming years.

Best Regards,


5 Responses to “Dear President-Elect Obama….”

  1. SheriHi Says:

    Amen, brother!

  2. david Says:

    living in arizona i do believe i was the only 1 at work that was glad rather overjoyed at the obama win how ever when the harleys start rolling out the door im sure everyone will feel that bush is somehow responsable but we no otherwise GOBAMA

  3. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Wow, so bikers tend to run towards Republican, huh? I guess that makes sense, in a way….

    You know what I’ve had stuck in my head for two weeks?

    President-elect Barack Obama
    President-elect Barack Obama
    Gonna have a big Obamarama
    ‘Round mid-January

    Sung to the tune of “What Do You Do With A Drunken Sailor”. :mrgreen:

  4. Gavin Says:

    Is this what you had in mind?

    Ah, feel the change.

  5. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Yeah, unfortunately things aren’t off to a very good start. Extra money for security I have no problem with; this Presidency is going to be the worst nightmare that the Secret Service ever faced. And really, I can’t fault Obama for the extra $50 mil Shrub has set aside for the inaugural; that also comes under the heading of security, and of managing the massive crowds for an event of this significance. But the rest of it is all pageantry and pomp. The vast majority of which, of course, is not being paid for out of the public coffers. But still, I would have loved to see the money spent elsewhere.

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