Every four years it seems to get bigger and more ornate.
We wonder if or where the line is where one steps over from an inauguration to a coronation.
A coronation is for a King or Queen.
It becomes a life-long job and involves no speeches, a crown somewhere, usually a lot of religious stuff and a lot of bowing.
You can’t compare it to an inauguration.
According to the Constitution, it simply says the president is to be sworn into office by noon on the January 20th after an election.
The oath of office is 35 words.
The whole things usually takes about three minutes.
It was a lot more quiet in the old days.
There’s nothing in the oath about motorcades and inaugural gowns and Fortune 500 companies sponsoring gala events.
There was some talk by the founding fathers to make George Washington President for life (which would have been a King), but that didn’t get past the chat phase.
Thomas Jefferson was so opposed to Old World pomp and flummery that he wanted George Washington to be inaugurated privately in the general’s own home.
The day Jefferson himself was inaugurated, he celebrated by having lunch at his boarding house, where he had to wait to be seated.
Jimmy Carter tried to dial everything back.
He insisted on calling the balls “parties,” ignored white tie and tails, and walked up Pennsylvania Avenue on his own two legs.
There’s nothing more powerful than the most powerful man in the world walking by himself.
Ronald Reagan, coming from California and Hollywood, gussied everything back up.
Barack Obama has taken it to another level with multiple balls and events all over the place.
The inauguration has become a celebration for celebration’s sake.
Yes, it spotlights one of the great foundations of our democracy, the peaceful transition of power.
But you can do that without spending millions of dollars on potted plants and endless balls and a fancy parade.
A nice firm handshake would do.
George Washington got it right.
When his successor, John Adams, was inaugurated in a simple indoor ceremony, Washington bowed and insisted that Adams leave the room first.
After all, Adams was the commander-in-chief.
But Washington knew that he himself now had the higher title: citizen.