The problem with PEBO’s inaugural festivities for the usual suspects is, of course, that he’s having them at all. That battle, happily, is over, and they’ve moved on to how terribly expensive it all is. The figure being floated on Fox (and the Associated Press, and a legion of lesser partisan organs) is up to $160 million, compared to President Bush’s frugal $42 million festivities in 2005.
Eric Boehlert at Media Matters lays out how hard the numbers were cooked to come up with those figures:
[The] Obama figure of $160 million that got repeated in the press included security costs associated with the massive event. But the Bush tab of $42 million left out those enormous costs. …
However, buried in a recent New York Times article published one week before the controversy erupted over the cost of Obama’s inauguration, the newspaper reported that in 2005, "the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers" [emphasis added].
You read that correctly. The federal government spent $115 million dollars for the 2005 inauguration. Keep in mind, that $115 million price tag was separate from the money Bush backers bundled to put on the inauguration festivities. For that, they raised $42 million. So the bottom line for Bush’s 2005 inauguration, including the cost of security? That’s right, $157 million.*
Not a lot of talk about where the money’s coming from, understandably. Bush’s inaugural donors were mostly individuals, lobbyists and companies with a vested interest in high oil prices, deregulation,** and the mortgage bubble. The Obama team isn’t taking money from lobbyists or companies, has lowered the top donation from Bush’s $250k to $50k, and (we find tucked into the bottom of a Politico story about "big donors") all but 5,632 of the 200,000 donations they’ve received were less than $200, for an average donation of $34.
Which, I guess, is why two days before the inauguration right pundit pushback has been reduced to this:
Even President Bush — who presumably counts himself among that group — said last week that Obama’s inauguration is "a moment of hope and pride."
That’s not exactly how Michelle Malkin describes it.
"Jan. 20 has turned into a schlock inauguration, (where) every last moocher has come to cash in on Obama," says the conservative blogger and pundit. "There are some of us who want to bang our heads against the wall."
Lest we forget, this is what Ms. Malkin considers a tasteful inauguration
This is the A-game, folks. Enjoy the party.
*Back then, the numbers were being massaged in another direction. From party organ the Washington Times:
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…
"Every inaugural, there’s a really good reason given why you should spend whatever donors are sending in on something else," Rich Galen, a veteran Republican activist, told the Associated Press, saying many of the complaints come from the losers of the election.
**fun donor trivia: one of the topped-out Bush donors was Stephens Media LLC, a southern operation which runs a California media group with Media News and Gannett. Both have CEOs on the board of the Associated Press (you may remember Mr. Singleton of Media News for his, and the AP’s, anti-Democrat activism during the election, and apparently beyond). The Washington Post, which makes most of its money from NCLB payments to its Kaplan Testing group, was in there too.