Oh, lord, the hype is on. Consider a full-page ad for official 1985 Inaugural Commemoratives yesterday in USA Today, which, to me, is packed with hilarious contradictions:
"March 4, 1829. Washington is invaded by a horde of 'the common people' -- farmers, laborers, backwoodsmen in coonskin hats. They have come to celebrate the inauguration of their champion, Andrew Jackson, and after the ceremony, they literally crash the exclusive reception at the White House -- overturning serving trays, tracking in mud, spitting tobacco juice. 'The reign of King Mob,' snorts one Jackson opponent, 'seemed triumphant.' "
Ah, yes, continues the ad. "Now you can preserve a piece of this historic moment" -- a Reagan rerun of the riotous Jackson inaugural? -- "for yourself," by buying such items as a 19-inch-high Boehm porcelain sculpture of a soaring eagle. Few of Andrew Jackson's "common people" would have been willing to buy, one suspects, the porcelain bird at the 1829 equivalent of $950.
Another of the ad's offerings sent Metro Scene to the law books. The ad offers anyone, anywhere in the United States, "official 1985 inaugural license plates that may be legally used on your vehicle in any state through March 15, 1985, or purchased as souvenirs for your home or office."
Personalized -- or vanity -- tags with spelled-out words cost $50. Numerical ones cost $30. They bear the top-and-bottom legend, "The 50th American Presidential Inaugural, 1985," and a subdued D.C. seal.
Okay, what did the law books tell us? Under pre-home-rule laws passed by Congress, "The . . . District of Columbia is authorized to issue . . . special registration tags, valid for a period not exceeding 90 days, designed to celebrate the . . . inauguration . . . . " Since D.C. tags are accepted by reciprocity in all 50 states, they're legal from Maine to Hawaii.