Criticism of elaborate inauguration celebrations is not new, and news reports suggest that President-elect Obama’s party planners are sensitive to the economic plight in which many Americans find themselves right now and are looking for ways to scale back on the excess. Of course, everything is relative.

Many may have forgotten that President Bush’s second inauguration — that election unblemished by recounts, hanging chads and controversial court rulings — drew similar criticism. The 43rd president explained that inaugurations are celebrations of democracy, and there is logic in that.

Meanwhile, inaugurations will also be ongoing next month throughout the nation as many states ceremonially seat governors. Whether these events are held in Washington, D.C., or one of our state capitals, excess seems to have become a tradition.

Even when private donations help fund inaugural activities, those who are governing need to be sensitive to the message they send to citizens who put them in office. Regardless of who is picking up the tab, try telling an underemployed mother you’re cutting the program that provides her baby milk after being at the center of in such an affair.

On the other hand, it can’t be denied that such parties are big business, and they do create jobs for the hundreds of thousands of people who are hired to put them and serve the needs for on the millions of people who attend. It’s not exactly frugal, but it seems to be the American way.

Brownwood Bulletin