Story/Photos By Ken Krayeske • 7:40 PM EST
A homeless man walks down Connecticut Avenue in Washington D.C. the morning of Obama's inauguration.
President Barack Obama's Inauguration cost more than $170 million. About $45 million of that went to parties and post-inaugural festivities, more than Clinton and Bush spent on their swearing-in bashes.
Most of that $45 million came from corporate sponsors, including some banks enjoying bail out monies, according to ABC News. I had forgotten about this profligate waste of cash until an astute reader, checking in after the Calhoun brouhaha last week, wondered why I congratulated Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for canceling his parties and criticized CT Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2007 for not, but failed to dis Obama's outlandish spending in 2009. Well, here goes.
To contrast the image of the homeless man, here an ad from Best Buy, a wealthy corporation. This Minnesota electronics retailer rented out the hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution on 18th and Virginia down by the Mall.
I'm not sure what Best Buy paid for the Hall, but during the 2008 election cycle, Best Buy's PAC spent $86,000 or so, according to OpenSecrets.org. Best Buy gave $59,500 to federal candidates, split almost down the middle, 54 percent to Republicans, 46 to Democrats. Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman seems to have received most of Best Buy's largesse.
These other two homeless men, right near Best Buy's inaugural open house on 18th Street, weren't so lucky.
Sure, there were hundreds of vendors selling tchotchke and inaugural schlock. But the worst of it was the Pepsi bookbags and billboards. With a little bit of graphic design flair, Pepsi managed to make its logo look a little like Obama's red, white and blue campaign "O."
Pepsi, according to OpenSecrets.org, gave more than $547,000 in 2008, to dozens of candidates, far more to Democrats than Republicans.
It seemed like Pepsi gave out thousands of these bookbags - some of which said Hope. And they printed the date "1-20-09" in the corner in a reminiscent of the anti-globalization protesters who would label their actions based on the dates - J18, N30.
And since I don't drink soda much, I was a little confused by the logo. It had me confused, and I didn't quite understand it until I realized - duh - Pepsi is just trying to insinuate itself into the minds and hearts of Americans.
By trying to get brand recognition on the Mall for Obama's Inaugural, Pepsi wants good, patriotic, Obama loving Americans to remember that it, too, feels hopeful and optimistic and joyful about the coming four years of America's first black president.
Pepsi was there with Obama in Denver at the Pepsi Center. James Ledbetter at Slate noted the connection long before me.
It is oddly fitting that the convention that will give Barack Obama the Democratic nomination for president will take place in Denver's Pepsi Center. During the primaries, some bloggers argued that Obama's insurgent campaign made him Pepsi to Hillary's establishment Coke. An eagle-eyed observer (who happens to work for Pepsi's P.R. firm) noticed that during the primary debates, Obama could be seen refreshing himself with Aquafina water—a Pepsi brand—while Hillary Clinton drank Coke's Dasani. In addition, Wonkette and others have noted that the round "Obama '08" logo is similar to the red and blue yin-yang-like symbol that Pepsi-Cola has used since 1991.
In Minneapolis, the parks in the Twin Cities had a contract with Pepsi, but Coke was the National Republican Convention's beverage of choice. It caused a little stir.
The funniest part, for me, though, is that now, the most popular soft drink of the Obama administration, according to Time Magazine: Coca-Cola.
Whatever the case, the amount of money spent on the Inaugural was grotesque, particularly considering the army of homeless people encamped on the streets of our nation's capital.