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Thursday, January 13

Bush Plays Fiddle, Watches Rome Burn

Yahoo! News - Some Now Question Cost of Inauguration

Read up on the history of the Inaugural Ball to see how a nation becomes an Empire, with all the trappings of luxury that term implies.




WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites)'s second inauguration will cost tens of millions of dollars — $40 million alone in private donations for the balls, parade and other invitation-only parties. With that kind of money, what could you buy?

_200 armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq (news - web sites).

_Vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami.

_A down payment on the nation's deficit, which hit a record-breaking $412 billion last year.

_Two years' salary for the Mets' new center fielder Carlos Beltran, or all of pitcher Randy Johnson's contract extension with the New York Yankees.

Weeks ago, the inauguration and its accompanying costs were considered a given, an historic ceremony with all the pomp, pageantry and celebrations that the nation had come to expect every four years.



History of the Inaugural Ball

President-elect Warren G. Harding also requested that the Inaugural committee do away with the elaborate ball (and the parade as well) in 1921, hoping to set an example of thrift and simplicity. The committee complied, and instead, the chairman of the Inaugural ball committee hosted a huge private party at his home. Subsequent Inaugurations followed this trend, with charity balls becoming the fashion for the Inaugurations of Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

President Harry Truman revived the official ball in 1949. Organizers for Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1953 Inaugural ball added a second event due to the great demand for tickets. Four years later, Eisenhower's second Inauguration featured four balls. Kennedy attended five in 1961. President Carter attempted to strip the balls of their glitz and glamour in 1977, calling them parties and charging no more than $25 each, but by 1989, when George H. Bush became President, the number of balls reached an all-time high of eleven. Fourteen balls capped the day's activities for the Clinton's in 1997.
Today, the official Inaugural balls are planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.



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