The spectacle of George W. Bush and his friends celebrating (Reuters) his election so expensively this week is one of those revealing moments in history. The announced spending of $40 million just on the parties is undoubtedly less than the actual amount, but even if it's accurate it's a staggeringly high number in such a time when even a tiny bit of sobriety would have been appreciated.
Meanwhile: Soldiers in Iraq still go without sufficient supplies. The tsunami survivors are just starting to pick up their lives. African warlords slaughter their people. America's middle class continues to shrink toward insignificance. And so on.
An inauguration is an event that celebrates the best of America: the peaceful transfer of power when a new president takes office, and the continuation of the republic's stable form of government on all cases, including the one this week when the president gets another term. And no one begrudges an appropriate demonstration of joy by the victors.
What Bush and his allies are doing is just plain vulgar, particularly in wartime. They have no sense of proportion, as they've demonstrated so many times before. But this is over the top. Bush's press secretary says the object of this over-the-top scene is to "celebrate freedom." No, it's a mockery.