Friday, December 15, 2006

In Defense of the Inauguration

I was going to write a post on my feelings about the 'controversy' surrounding Deval Patrick's inauguration plans, but this morning I found that George Bachrach has written them for me. He talked about some of the same things he mentioned at the Cambridge forum, Tuesday, and I'm glad to see him making those points to a wider audience. Here's a bit from the piece:

The galas are picked apart as excessive and costly, spread over several days at a cost of more than a million dollars. But this is a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't story. No matter what Patrick does, he can't win.

Patrick won the election, in part, based on a huge grass-roots organization. If he seeks to include people, it's a large and costly enterprise. If he limits the event, he looks elitist, or stingy, or ungrateful. If he opens the State House doors to everyone, someone will write about security issues, long lines, lousy food, and poor planning.

[. . .]

Take the issue of funding the inaugural. One day the media encourage public-private partnerships, demanding greater corporate civic participation. The next day they vilify Patrick for seeking contributions to underwrite the inaugural. Should the taxpayer pay for the inaugural festivities?
Deval Patrick will be criticized no matter what he does. If it's a small event, he's a hypocrite for talking about wider participation, but turning his inaugural into an insider's party. As it stands now, it's too big and too expensive and the wrong people are paying for it. Well, more people worked on and donated to and were involved in Deval Patrick's campaign than any other in recent memory. How many of them should be excluded? Inviting 40,000 people to a party is going to be expensive and unless you're going to price them out, there needs to be some other source of funds. The inauguration as planned is the most inclusive the Commonwealth has seen, and that's something that I think should be celebrated.

Let's save the criticism of Patrick until he actually does something that matters. Let's see what his first budget looks like before we get worked up about what message he's sending.