This whole inauguration situation is just filled with fodder for those who can’t stand George Bush. The pundits on WAMU-FM’s “DC Politics Hour” had an apoplectic field day yesterday, but their take on the whole thing is valid. For instance, one pointed out that Bush is constantly harping about security and safety and generally using fear to keep people in line; yet they’re forcing D.C. to use Homeland Security money to do such things as build bleachers along Pennsylvania Avenue. What’s most galling is that the inaugural committee is selling very, very expensive tickets to sit on those bleachers for the parade. So, D.C.’s security money, through a roundabout way, ends up in the pockets of the inaugural committee.
On top of this is the simple fact that the general public is plainly not invited to the inaugural festivities. In fact, there has already been at least one incident of a resident being stopped on the street and forced to provide identification, long before the party starts. 100 square blocks are being closed, checkpoints are being set up. People on the street will be interrogated by men holding M16s. Protesters are being kept away from the parade route where no one can see them. Only the very rich and those representing corporations and big business will be able to enjoy this weekend of ostentatious overspending, there’s certainly no place for the poorly paid and overworked… except a few token soldiers and their families which, it seems certain, the inaugural committee will place in conspicuous locations in order to blunt criticism of such an expensive and unnecessary party in the middle of such an expensive and unnecessary war.
An antiwar group filed suit yesterday alleging that President Bush’s inaugural committee has for weeks blocked the public from getting tickets to the inaugural parade route and has allowed only selected donors and supporters to purchase seats.
Although Presidential Inaugural Committee officials have repeatedly said that the tickets along the Pennsylvania Avenue route are available to the public, the suit alleges that individual members of the public are blocked from buying them unless they are Bush donors or supporters who have received an invitation and special identification number from the committee.
… “Pennsylvania Avenue is considered American’s Main Street,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice, which helped file the suit. “For the government to come in and take this space, to say you may only have access to this event if your viewpoint is approved by the incoming administration, is a fundamental violation of all of our First Amendment rights.”
… People answering phones at Ticketmaster yesterday said callers needed an invitation and identification number to buy a ticket. “As of right now, the only way you can get a ticket is if you get an invitation,” one said. “We haven’t heard anything yet, but I don’t think they’re going to release any to the public.”
Does this sound like the capital of the free nation we’ve come to expect?
Maybe it is what we’ve come to expect. At least, in the last few years.