Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Much Ado About Nothing Vol 45

If a documentarian wanted to make a movie called Greatest Moments in Inaugural History, what events do you think he or she should include?  Obviously, George Washington's first inaugural should be included.  Maybe Thomas Jefferson's first inauguration--as that represented the first peaceful transfer of power between political parties.  Both of Abraham Lincoln's would definitely have to be in there, given the historical context in which they occurred.  Franklin Roosevelt's first inauguration definitely makes the cut with his "All we have to fear is fear itself" speech.  And John Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" speech would have to be in there. 

Did you notice that there were no "celebrity performances" in that list?  I'm sure there were plenty of people who sang at the ceremonies on the Capitol steps--but did any really represent historic moments?  And there are no inaugural ball moments in there either.  Perhaps you could do a sidelight on the tradition of the first lady wearing different dresses to all of those events--but again, was there anything from dances and dinners of historical consequence?

So why is it such a big deal that certain performers say they want nothing to do with Donald Trump's inauguration?  You could say there is a certain degree of irony in the "Celebrity President" being so unpopular with other people famous only for being famous--but so what?  Let's not forget that an inauguration is just a big celebration of someone starting a new job.  In most workplaces, you are lucky to have cake in the breakroom--and here is CNN doing 20-minutes on what happens if nobody wants to sing the national anthem.

Back to our documentary, a cautionary tale that would also have to be a big part of the movie is William Henry Harrison's inaugural--which should serve as a cautionary tale.  His ceremony was held on a cold, rainy day in Washington.  Harrison did not wear a coat or hat and proceeded to give the longest inaugural speech in history.  He contracted pneumonia and died a few months later--having served the shortest term of any US President.

Weather also curtailed Ronald Reagan's second inaugural as bitter cold enveloped Washington (back in the days when there was genuine concern that the next Ice Age was starting).  The outdoor ceremony at the Capitol was canceled and Reagan took the oath of office inside the White House.  The parade was hastily moved to the old Capital Centre--where the bands and twirlers walked around the arena floor and people sat in the stands.

If I was President-Elect Trump, I would spin the "Inaugural Backlash" into a positive.  Take the oath in a ceremony featuring the Marine Corps Band playing the national anthem.  Give your speech.  Drive over to the White House and "get to work".  We'll even chip in to put a nice cake in the break room.

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