Washington Gets Ready for Subdued Inauguration

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 19 2013 4:04 PM

Washington Gets Ready for Subdued Inauguration

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama paint a bookshelf at Burrville Elementary School Saturday as part of the National Day of Service

Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama began the weekend that will officially launch his second term by taking part in a National Day of Service. Obama and his family joined volunteers at an elementary school in Washington, continuing a day of service the president started in 2009 that he hopes will become a tradition for future presidents, reports NBC. Thousands of volunteers across the country are set to participate in the day of service in advance of the president’s official swearing in during a private ceremony at the White House Sunday. He’ll then take the oath of office again in public Monday.

There will be a parade, there will be balls, and lots of happy supporters. But there’s no getting around the fact that this will be a much more toned-down version of the events that engulfed Washington four years ago. Case in point, officials estimate that as many as 800,000 people will attend Monday’s public events, fewer than half the 1.8 million who were present for Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, points out the Associated Press. It’s not just that the second time around is always more muted, but the country’s continuing economic woes along with the partisan bickering that has taken over Washington “have drained some of the hope that marked Obama's first swearing-in after he swept to victory on a mantle of change in 2008 to become America's first black president,” notes Reuters.

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Donors also aren’t very excited. Even though President Obama let corporations donate to his inauguration, so far only nine companies have opened their wallets, compared to the 45 that gave $250,000 each for President George W. Bush’s second inauguration, reports Politico. The inaugural committee is apparently still $10 million short of its fundraising goals. ABC News points out it’s still far from clear how much the inaugural events will cost.

The full schedule of events is available at the official Presidential Inaugural Committee site.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.