But where are the fireworks?

The Washington Post takes the lack of fireworks at Barack Obama's inauguration just a little too seriously.


Alex Koppelman
January 20, 2009 1:30AM (UTC)

Not everyone's happy with the planning for Barack Obama's inauguration. And, let's face it, there are probably some legitimate reasons to complain, especially if you happen to live in Washington, D.C. and have to deal with the number of people flooding the city. But one article in the Washington Post offers a much sillier complaint, about the lack of fireworks, and treats it in an oddly serious way.

I sort of think -- or maybe I just hope -- that either Richard Leiby, who wrote the following passages, meant them as a joke because he was upset about being assigned this story, or that one of his editors did it for the same reason:

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In repeated public announcements, the committee has promised that Barack Obama's inauguration will be "the most open and accessible inauguration in American history." But the lack of fireworks represents a departure from one of the most accessible traditions that accompany the celebration of a new presidency. A fireworks display has been a feature of the past seven consecutive inaugurations, starting with Ronald Reagan's in 1981...

Some participants in past inaugurations say the lack of fireworks this year undermines a populist message.

"The symbolism is all wrong not to do it," said Craig Shirley, who worked on Reagan's second inauguration and has written two books on the former president. "There isn't anybody who doesn't like fireworks. . . . There's no preferred seating for fireworks."

There is a valid point in the article, one about most Washingtonians not being able to go to inauguration events without a ticket, but it's buried under the handwringing about fireworks.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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