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President Bush’s money men are currently raising $40 million for the president’s second inaugural. Apparently, giving money will get the donors terrific spots at the leading balls and a great seat at the inaugural itself.
Now, I consider the $273 million President Bush spent to defeat John Kerry money well spent. Kerry would have taken us back to the weak Clinton days when terrorists attacked us and received a couple of bombs lobbed at them in return. Kerry would have given the immoral United Nations a place of prominence in decisions pertaining to American foreign policy that would have undermined America’s commitment to promoting democracy and human rights.
But the idea that a president who was the choice of 80 percent of morality-based voters would now spend $40 million dollars on a giant inaugural party in a time of war is as unconscionable as it is immoral. With American soldiers dying nearly every day in Iraq, is a big shindig for a bunch of rich and powerful people really appropriate? Why would President Bush give fodder to his enemies and appear as the president of the fat cats rather than the people?
President Bush was elected president four years ago, as he was four week ago. He already had the big inaugural event. There is no need to repeat a lavish affair now. The moral thing to do with the $40 million raised for the inaugural balls by his friends and contributors is to distribute the money to the approximately 1,300 military families who have lost a loved one in Iraq, and President Bush would win over a lot of his critics if he would prevail upon his friends and fundraisers to tone down the inaugural to a modest affair, and give the rest of the money raised to military families who need it.
I have been a great fan and passionate advocate of President Bush and his faith-based presidency. President Bush has been willing to courageously pursue history-shaping policies, like removing tyrants who slaughter their people from power. I salute and revere him for it.
But while the war in Iraq is just and necessary, the fact remains that American are dying almost every day. And while we have to see our commitment through and establish a viable democracy, we dare not become desensitized to the value of American life by having unnecessary political celebrations in a time of war.
As we plan these large inaugural balls, have we forgotten that our soldiers are fighting and risking their lives in a faraway land? I’m not looking to be a killjoy. I know that we at home need to lead an essentially normal life, even in a time of war. But can no sacrifices be made on the home front, even by the president and the country’s leading politicians? More than any other single policy, this administration is defined by the war in Iraq. And the president must therefore be the first to show that the American people have not forgotten their troops.
In general, there is a terrible disconnect between the 275 million American who go about their daily lives focused mostly on themselves, and the approximately 2 million Americans who are entrusted to guarantee our freedom and sacrifice their lives, if need be, to safeguard their freedoms. There is a desperate need in America to close that gap, both so that our soldiers never feel unappreciated and so that the American people never take the military’s sacrifice for granted.
President Bush can begin that process by making a courageous statement that now is not the time for large parties celebrating political triumphs, but rather a time to focus on the plight of our troops and ensure their victory in Iraq.
There is also the issue of not gloating in victory. The Republican Party now controls Congress and the White House. They are completely dominant. I do not lament this development as I am convinced that in its current incarnation the Democratic Party should not be entrusted with the reigns of power. But there should be humility in victory. President Bush’s victory was won with morality-based voters who supported him because they trust his values.
There is, therefore, a need to show that he does not gloat and embraces his victory with humility. Canceling the big inaugural celebrations sends the right messages to the American people that President Bush did not seek to whip the Democrats or raise himself in victory, but rather to simply continue the course of spreading democracy and destroying tyranny around the globe.
And what about all the wealthy supporters who need to be rewarded for their support of the president with invitations to a big inaugural ball? First of all, they can all be invited to the inaugural itself, which should be a sufficient honor. But more importantly, political contributors must learn the lesson of supporting a candidate they believe in, even if it means receiving nothing in return.
I personally supported President Bush because he is a righteous man who upholds the value of human life. I supported him for the good of the country and the world. I expected nothing in return. The big money people need be no different to us little people, doing the right because it’s right. President Bush’s victory is enough of a reward.