To the pomp, the circumstance and the parade that marked Jimmy Carter's inauguration yesterday came the protestors, their presence this year more of a faint echo of a rapidly fading past than an angry voice protesting the present.
"Demonstrations just really aren't our real work anymore," said Bon Brammer as his protesting the B-1 bomber swayed in the wind. "It's the inauguration, we have to be here. A lot of people came for the sentimentality of it all."
A coalition of 14 peace, environment and antinuclear proliferation groups stood quiet vigil among the throngs that lined Constitution Avenue as the new President walked down the street from the Capitol. A band of Yippies, held a smoke in at the Washington Monument. Members of the Progressive Labor Party marched to the AFL-CIO bulding the placid nature of their walk contracting with the fearsome rhetoric of their slogans.
The demonstrators' presence recalled the last two inaugrations only in the contrast they drew. Richard Nixon's inauguration in 1969 was accompanied by an elaborate three-day counter-inauguration, replet with its own parade, reviewing stand, inaugral ball and workshops on the nature of the political struggle. Thousands came to march, to protest, to highlight, in all the raucous and gaudy ways the times seemed to demand, the bitter divisiveness that racked the country.
The protests that year ended in violence - at least 81 arrested, nearly a dozen injured from the flying rocks and flailing billy clubs that marked the tightest security ever surrounding a presidential inauguration.
Watching Carter's inaugural speech on a color television set in the mayor's inaugural command center, George S. Rodericks, head of the center, listened as the newly inaugurated President thanked his predecessor for "healing the nation." "I remember four years ago, the last inauguration," Rodericks said. "Out in the street . . . the rioting . . . the hate."
This year, as President Carter walked bareheadedsin the sunlight, District and park Police reported da total of seven arrests along the parade route - three persons were charged with vending souvenirs without a license, three with pickpocketing, and one with possession of two bags of marijuana.
No one mourned the passing of the confrontations, although many missed the jubilant camaraderie that often accompanied the demonstrations, John Richards, 26, of New York City, happened to be passing the group of about 150 persons gathered on Constitution Avenue to protest nuclear weapons and the B1 bomber when he stopped, picked up a sign that read "Stop Nuclear Weapons and Power" and began to chant "Stop the arms race; not the human race."
"There was a feeling," said Richards of demonstrations past, "that made it good to be a part of something. When people you met at a demo talked about us and about them, you knew exactly who 'them' meant. Now it's not so simple. 'Them' could be anybody and 'us' doesn't exist."
Brammer, a 28-year-old veteran of antiwar activities, who works full time for the Coalition to Stop the B1 Bdomber, said the emphasis now is on education, in showing people how the things he and the others were protesting hurt people in their pocketbooks. Not exactly the type of work to draw out the rag-tag army of the counterculture with their beads, banners and day-glo paint, but then, asaid Brammer Carter isn't Nixon.
Instead of fighting the new President, Brammer said, the group saw itself in more of a supporting role. "We want to be a counterbalancing force," he said. "One that will make it more possible for Carter to advocate a general reduction of strategic arms."
At the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument, the Yippies had anything but support of Carter on their minds as clouds of marijuana smoke drifted away on the frostly wind and the Park police stood benign ly by.
The crashing electronic chords of a local band called Griffin helped the crowd of about 200 to forget the cold, and there was talk among the organizers of demonstrations past: the "in-hog-uration" of Richard Nixon's first inauguration, the helium filled rat shaped balloon of his last.
This year, they said, the helium was too expensive, the banners demanding the freedom of all "political prisoners" had been stolen, and the tourists lining the parade route were so numerous no one could see the Nixon and Carter masks the Yippies were wearing.
Nevertheless, a few of the Yippies did make it up to the parade route where they held aloft banners reading. "The Ku Klux Klan Loves Carter," and "Impeach Carter Now - Before it's too late." Standing with them was Wavy Gravy, the man whose Hog Farm collective fed the masses at Woodstock in the halcyon days of the counterculture and has seen the New Left through most of its chaotic and disparate life.
Wavy Gravy is 40 now, but there he was dressed in the red track suit, clown make a beanie with a propeller atop his carrot up, his teetch painted like the rainbow and colored hair. He wasn't bitter at the lack of demonstrators.
"l The war took 10 years out of everybody's life," he said. "Now the movement's turned inward and that's good. May be this will do some good and maybe it won't but me, I don't know how to do anything else but kee on doing what I've always done."