President Obama is said to be considering whether to take corporate money to pay for his inauguration festivities. Some on the left fear that this would lead to undue corporate influence. The Wall Street Journal observed, “Mr. Obama took a variety of steps in his first inauguration to limit the influence of special interests and give the public a window into who paid for the festivities. He released the names of people who bundled contributions and refused to take money from federal registered lobbyists. Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, said that were Mr. Obama to accept corporate contributions this time, it would ‘essentially codify this idea that corporations should be financing politics.’ ”
That’s poppycock. No corporate money was accepted for the first inauguration, and big banks, green energy investors and Big Pharm made out swimmingly in the first Obama term. Conversely, I doubt that even really big lavish parties would buy the coal industry a respite from the Obama Environmental Protection Agency. So if Obama wants to get money from corporations, I don’t quite see what the big deal is all about.
But here is a thought. Why not forgo all but the essentials — the speech and security attendant thereto? Somehow the sight of Democratic fat cats dancing the night away in tails and ballroom gowns while 8 percent of the country is unemployed, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps and everyone may get socked with tax hikes and/or cuts in government services seems, well, gross. There is nothing wrong with a nice party, don’t get me wrong. But rather than a parade, why not have everyone march up to the Sandy-ravaged areas to help out? Instead of lobster and caviar buffets, why not stock up D.C.-area food banks? And if Obama insists on parties, why not make them business attire and ask guests to give the amount they would have spent on those gowns, tuxedoes, etc. to a charity of their choice? Set a fundraising goal — not for balls but for charitable giving.
That’s an inauguration the whole country could get behind.