Despite festivities, outlook still dire

By Karl Terry: Freedom New Mexico columnist

Tuesday’s inauguration of Barack Obama will truly be unique. He will be the first president younger than me.

He’ll also be the first black president in our nation’s history.

While I”m extremely unsure about his politics and his ability to step up to the office, the historic aspect of his inauguration is interesting. I don’t mind saying that the celebrity feel of it all, the elaborate plans and the money being laid out seems pretty unnecessary.

Estimates are that $160 million will be spent on the inauguration festivities, including the security and public works expense. Private donations are expected to make up about $45 million of that cost, according to a story in the New York Daily News.

If I’ve digested the figures correctly, approximately 250,000 official tickets have been printed for the swearing-in ceremony.

Washington D.C. officials are planning for up to 2.5 million people to show up in the nation’s capital for the event.

Contrast that to inaugural ceremonies held during World War I and World War II, when balls were canceled and costs were contained.

Many are comparing the excitement of Obama’s inaugural with that of John F. Kennedy and maybe given his youth and the possibility of abrupt change coming from the White House in the first 100 days of the new administration it’s a fair comparison. But with troops involved in two conflicts, the wounds of Sept. 11, 2001, still healing and our country facing the worst economy since the Great Depression, the second coming of Camelot isn’t likely.

Indeed, a better comparison to make might be what lay before President Franklin D. Roosevelt at his first inauguration. With the Great Depression gripping the nation, he faced problems with the economy that had torn the previous administration of Herbert Hoover apart — not unlike the final months of George Bush’s second term.

Obama has to find it sobering when he reads that segment of this great nation’s history. Roosevelt struggled mightily with the problems of a busted nation and those problems weren’t overcome until it was jump-started by World War II.

It’s obvious Obama will be tested early by the nation’s economic problems and I believe they may well linger throughout his term and define his presidency.

I truly hope he is successful in putting the nation back on track but I don’t think it will be easy. In the meantime, I pray that his leadership will continue to keep us safe from terrorism and other threats to our nation.

Enjoy the moment but don’t delay the work ahead.

Karl Terry writes for Freedom New Mexico. Contact him at: karlterry@yucca.net