Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Corporate cash hurts Bush bash (Jerome Curran Pandell column)

Washington, D.C. — It’s going to be a long four years.

The spirit and tenor of the inauguration of George W. Bush’s second term — celebrated Thursday at the Capitol — was mostly gloating while also being magnificent.

I suppose to the victors go the spoils, based on the $40 million-plus, corporate extravaganza to which the morning ceremony and balls Thursday night served as grand finale.

There was not a hotel — or state, for that matter — without an inaugural ball to wine and dine donors and a few dignitaries. But mostly donors.

The Illinois State Society even feted Northwestern industrial engineering and management sciences Prof. Donald Frey, a business leader who served as project manager for the original Ford Mustang.

But the 55th inauguration in history was not a "Celebration of Freedom," as an exclusive outdoor concert near the White House was dubbed.

No, this inauguration was a parade of the most posh corporate fat cats and the multi-thousand-dollar donors to Bush’s campaign, coming to town for the coronation of their king.

Not to deny, however, the majestic magic and shimmering spectacle that is Washington on Inauguration Day.

"The Inaugural Ceremony is a seminal moment in our nation’s history," said Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, who served as the ceremony’s emcee. "It’s the culmination of a triumphant democratic process that for centuries has placed power in the will of the people."

It’s a shame the grandeur of the world’s longest-lasting peaceful transfer of power only is experienced by select donors and supporters, who, at the Texas State Society’s Black Tie and Boots Ball Wednesday night, all received trademark John Deere baseball caps.

How’s that for red state pride?

As for Bush’s speech, like the ceremony, the oratory did not heal divisions left over from the election. Boos, muted by the patriotic music of the U.S. Marine Band, could be heard as former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took his place on the stage.

Bush’s 18-minute speech occurred after raspy-voiced Chief Justice William Rehnquist — suffering from thyroid cancer — administered the oath of office. Never addressing the Iraq war by name, Bush offered platitudes, saying "the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

"This is not primarily a task of arms, but we will defend ourselves and our friends by the force of arms as necessary," Bush told a cheering crowd of thousands stretching to the length of the National Mall. "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling."

Protesters at the inauguration thought different — carrying signs calling for Bush’s impeachment. One even leaped in front of my row, all of 100 feet from the president, to yell "Boo Bush!"

Sending a stinging message to the Bush bashers, the song "Let the Eagle Soar" (immortalized by John Ashcroft in "Fahrenheit 9/11") featured prominently during the ceremony.

The message was clear: America, heal thyself.

Weinberg senior Jerome Curran Pandell attended the inauguration in Washington. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Corporate cash hurts Bush bash (Jerome Curran Pandell column)