Two experiences. Four years apart.
Democracy has flexed its muscle today. $40 million was spent to give our second termer an inauguration he will never forget. The White House believes that such a celebration of freedom is money well spent.
I will not argue the moral implications of that issue extensively - other than to say that, of course, if I was in the Suni Triangle I rather have body armor provided by the government than some that I purchased off an Ebay vendor. Perhaps if Laura, Barb and Jenna had bought their gowns off the rack a few new recruits would have the proper equipment to shield them from metal slugs. Yet, federal appropriations continue to be a mystery to me even as I continue the climb of the political ladder.
Ever the economist (as it allows me to push my own morality aside), today's theatrics have left me wondering what $40 million buys you. The value. And, inexplicably, those thoughts have led me to my new Jesus, Shaquille O'Neal. Michael Jordan pioneered the multi-ten mark years ago, when he got thirty from Chicago. The Big Aristotle hasn't reached that pinnacle just yet, but he has his designs set on it. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he'll approach near-Bush2005inaugurationcompensation in the next few years.
We all know that Jerry Buss didn't want to pony up the oh-moo-la-la to keep the Big Fella in Hollywood. Meanwhile here in Miami, as the Flash-Superman tandem keeps winning and the American Airlines Arena fills capacity every night, Heat Owner Mickey Arison realizes that those tens of tens of tens is money well spent.
It seems then, that the value of $40 million is inconsistent. Personally, I would rather have ~82 games plus the playoffs of Shaq versus a day of pageantry for everyone's favorite first family.
And I think that the public at large feels the same way. And to prove it, I relate two singular experiences that take place 4 years apart on the same week.
January 21, 2001 - The first inauguration. I was in attendance after convincing some G.O.P winos that I was a member of the team. Comp tickets weren't hard to come by as evidenced by the usual clusterfuck of protestors, parade goers, radicals and lame ducks. Not money well spent. The party wasn't good at all. The only cool thing was seeing the snipers on top of the capital. And they didn't even shoot anyone!
January 16, 2005 - Almost five years to the day. A vastly different celebration, as Shaquille O'Neal plays Grand Marshall to the festive Three Kings Parade in Little Havana, Miami, Florida. Glee was in the air hours before his arrival. No pro-lifers, no pro-choicers. And even though it is a religious celebration that was moved to accomodate Shaq's schedule, there were no real religious radicals in sight aside from the three live camels that were decked in saddles bearing the logo of a local pharmacy.
The camels were the only zealots. And even they could not compare to the Beatle-mania that surrounded Shaq. Miami's Politicos were nervous before his arrival, informing their photographers to make sure they got a picture with the biggest man ever built. That would be impossible as the second he made an appearance a throng of eighty gathered around him. It was reminiscent of those Kindergarten sharing circles - only bigger.
Yet, there was no hate. There was no need for heavy security. No one was going to take the Big Fella out. Surely, it isn't in Man's interest to destroy something so beautiful as a 7'1 500 pound monolith.
Thoughts of demise aside, there was a calmness surrounding the chaos of Shaq in Little Havana that even Bush's coming-out party in gestapo controlled Washington wouldn't be able to echo.
I also think Bush would be hard pressed to have such a John Lennon like following as Shaq did last Sunday.
Putting politics on the backburner, I'm sure there are a few things that we can all agree on:
-Following today's market forces, 40 mil on the Diesel is money well spent. For the inauguration its way too close to call.
-The DNC would be well advised to pursue a Shaq/Kobe ticket in 2008. Just think, since bullets are proven to bounce off of Mr. Steel we'll save oodles on Secret Service.
And, if Kobe proves to be a Texas-sized conservative (which would make no sense but be completely in line with his downfall), we could cooly substitute Riley for Numero Ocho and watch the ticket take back the country.