Confessions of an Eggplant

eggplant (n) - 1. a tough-skinned vegetable with a soft inside; sweated with salt to remove bitterness and combined with sauce and cheese and other complementary ingredients, it is rendered into a tasty and hearty dish. 2. a metaphor for life.


Wartime Inauguration

Enough about FDR's cold chicken salad and unfrosted pound cake.

The frugalities of Roosevelt IV (the inauguration of 1945) as compared to Bush II (tomorrow's inauguration, "the most expensive in history" as NPR always points out) are supposed to show us what a wartime inauguration should look like.

But it's apples and oranges.

In 1945, FDR was a shell of the man he had been twelve years before, at Roosevelt I. His declining health was obvious to everyone around him (within four months he would be dead). The strain of being commander-in-chief for the preceding three years of uncertainty took an enormous toll on him, mentally and physically. The death toll of American troops, staffed primarily by an involuntary draft, numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Domestic life was altered across the board as basic necessities were rationed and entire industries were retooled for war production instead of consumer production. The focus of the entire nation was on the war effort; our sovereignty was at stake.

Not so, 2005. This war is not the focus of the nation. To suggest that the mood of the nation is subdued because of the war is inaccurate. Our everyday lives are not touched by it. We follow our volunteer forces closely if a large body count occurs, but the topic of war is easily pushed aside by college football's BCS controversy, or Janet's wardrobe malfunction, or Martha's incarceration, or Brad and Jen's split, or Trump's fiancée's $100K wedding gown. We eat out, attend sporting events, rack up credit card debt, and gossip about celebrities we know better than our own neighbors while sacrificing nothing for the war effort.

The $40M they'll spend on the inauguration is good economic stimulus. The union guys who built the platforms and the D.C. cops who'll earn overtime pay and the guys who set up (and, ugh, take down) the portable toilets can use the money. The private donors and lobbyist who'll foot the bill need to feel part of the process. It'll help their self-esteem.

So let them party. Let them eat five-tiered, frosted cake. Let them dance. And then let them get back to work and finish the job.

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