Like Andrew, I noticed yet another poll this morning about whether Bush is a uniter or a divider. But unlike Sullivan, I didn’t get particularly exercised by the unsurprising revelation that our people are split on this issue. When, in reality, have they not been? Well, back in ’72 when I was a McGovern supporter and the country seemed united against us, I suppose. And then in the very immediate aftermath of 9-11. But other than that we seem to live in a divided country, no matter what the President does–or his opposition, for that matter. Is Barbara Boxer a uniter or divider? John Kerry? Well, you decide.
But further down in the poll, something did disturb me:
54 percent said the [inaugural] celebration should be toned down this year, compared with other inaugurations, because the country is at war. Forty-five percent said the inauguration should be held just as in other years, and 1 percent had no opinion.
I’m a party sort of guy. I wouldn’t mind buying myself a new pair of alligator-skin Tony Lamas and heading over to one of those black tie Texas shindigs. [You weren’t invited.-ed. I noticed.] And yet… I sympathize with those fifty-four percent. These are uncommonly serious times and part of the President’s job is to remind the people that they are. We are arriving at a crunch point in Iraq. All kinds of forces are working behind the scenes to make us pull out. Less (but not no) Texas two-step and more gravitas are called for. And less conspicuous consumption. And, of course, there’s the little matter of the tsunami….
UPDATE: Bush’s inaugural address seems to me a good one, particularly these simple and clear lines:
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
I do not see the world in exactly Bush’s theist terms, but if his committment to freedom comes from a Higher Authority, that’s fine with me. I care about his actions.
MORE: Excellent post (as usual) by Charlie (Colorado) below, pointing out how the present inauguration in actually cheaper than the Clinton inaugural in 2005 dollars. Am I suprised? Not at all.