IN OTHER WORDS: Bush’s party

According to President Bush, the festivities surrounding his second-term inauguration on Thursday give people a chance to celebrate democracy as well as his personal victory. Certainly Democrats run the risk of being seen as feeding on sour grapes if they try to deny Bush his moment out of pique. Still, aspects of the inaugural are disquieting. For instance, historians have noted that the ceremonies have frequently been muted in time of war, notably by Woodrow Wilson in 1917 and Franklin D Roosevelt in 1945. It would be helpful if there was some meaningful acknowledgment of the calamities in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

Most troubling is those who are funding the fun. The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill limits political contributions to $2,000 and bans direct “soft money” gifts. But the big givers have found other routes, writing huge checks to “independent advocacy groups,” the parties’ national conventions, and now the inaugural events.

Interests, whether individuals or corporations, make such contributions for a reason, and it is a reason that is not healthy for the nation. In the future they should be limited to throwing their own parties, with an official inaugural ceremony and ball paid for with public money and modest public contributions. That would be a better start for any president. — The Boston Globe