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Inaugural Extravagance?

Last week, my column was an open letter to President Bush. Considering the serious times we're living in, I asked him to suggest to the corporate sponsors of the Inauguration that they consider toning down the festivities and think about donating at least some of the $40 million to worthwhile causes instead of just underwriting all the parties, balls, and celebrations. The great number of responses to this column indicated that I'm not the only person concerned about this topic.

One response was from a newspaper that asked my permission to reprint the column. The request came from the "Lone Star Iconoclast," of Crawford, Texas, home of the Bush ranch.

Other responses from readers included:

Michael: "You have hit the nail squarely on the head. I hope your article reaches the president's desk, then his eyes, then his heart."

Sandra: "Presuming you're living on the same planet as the rest of us, and presuming that you're not just being sarcastic, may I humbly suggest that you do not know our King as well as you think you do? Let them eat cake, indeed."

Sherry: "I find it reprehensible that money is spent in such an extravagant manner when so many Americans are unemployed, uninsured, the Social Security program is in dire straits, and the national debt is so out of control."

Doug: "I wonder how you would feel if it was John Kerry's inauguration???"

Delores: "... I agree some sort of celebration is warranted, but keep it low-key."

Sharon: "You said exactly what millions of Americans would like to say. And the e-mail link was perfect. I sent my opinion to the president!"

Patrick: "Let the winners of the election celebrate, have a good time, and spend as much in private money as they wish and let's not begrudge them it."

Frances: "I attended the inauguration four years ago because I'm a Republican, Texan, and a loyal friend and supporter of George and Laura and the Bush administration. I agree with and support your letter 100% and hope George will listen to what you wrote."

Jerry: "Such silliness! Your 'open letter' is a childish attempt to make poor Bush look bad."

Anyth: "Don't you have more important things to write about than cook up useless dribble to clutter the Internet? ... The inauguration of a President is a celebration of FREEDOM. It is a tradition."

Allicia: "That is an awesome idea. It truly would be an inauguration to never forget."

Dave: "... I took your prompt and e-mailed the President, indicating that I concur with your view of the inauguration celebration. No wonder people outside of America think we are pigs with all of our ridiculous indulgence."

Wendi: "Dear Mr. President ... Please consider cutting back on these balls and donating the money to people who really need it. That would do much more for your image and make the US people proud to call you our President."

Bob: "Your open letter is polite, to the point, it makes a valid, inarguable statement. Thank you."

Lawrence: "This is the best thing you could comment on? You're wasting everybody's time."

Dick: "Why can't more journalists offer more constructive observations such as this? Thank you!"

Cindy: "... As for your childish rant about the Bush inauguration: this is the USA, not Communist China. We've got the God-given right to spend our money the way we want to."

R-Hai: "Why do you continue to bash Bush?... If you are a socialist, move to Russia and see how many articles/editorials you get to write about Putin. Signed, A concerned Democrat."

Crystal: "I used to admire President Bush, especially after the way he handled things after 9/11. But now, all he wants is the glitz ... shame on you President Bush!"

Maralyn: "Mr. President: ... What are you thinking? ... There are families that need help as they deal with senseless killings of their loved ones in the war. The tsunami victims need help and California mudslides are wiping out families. I'm sorry to say I'm ashamed to have you as our President."

Gwen: "... This inauguration in our United States is like crowning a king in another country ... We can do our part with the world's problems and still have an inauguration as a country that is proud of our ceremony and events."

Bonnie: "Thanks for expressing the feelings of 98% of the USA population! ... Urge the people to send more e-mails to the president or any other government official and shut this big spender down and allocate funds to Americans for what America needs."

Karen: "I guarantee that had Mr. Bush lost and this was Mr. Kerry's inauguration, the article would not have been written. Who cares what other countries think of us? ... We should celebrate like true Americans when something good happens to our country."

James: "As a member of the Republican Party who will be attending the Black-tie and Boots Ball on Wednesday evening, ... I must tell you that I'm not the least bit ashamed of this celebration in light of what is happening in Indonesia. ... Frankly, I'm sick and tired of Socialists trying to make Americans feel guilty for being successful."

PJM: "Dear President Bush: First, Congratulations on being reelected; and Best of Luck and Health in your second term. I was proud and honored to have served as one of your reelection campaign coordinators here in ... County. I feel that Lloyd Garver best states my exact thoughts, so please indulge me the opportunity to pass on his comments for your respectful consideration: '... If you convince these people to give their money to a worthy cause instead of just throwing a gala dedicated to excess, no one will ever forget this inauguration. Wouldn't that be a more appropriate way to celebrate America?'"

By the way, the president never got back to me. I guess he just didn't get the message.

Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.

By Lloyd Garver