Blogs > Cliopatria > Inaugurations Are Supposed to Be Boring

Jan 17, 2005 7:53 pm

Inaugurations Are Supposed to Be Boring

A reporter called up. Aren't inaugurations kind of boring, he asked?

Why do we pay attention?

I don’t mean to be flip, but they're supposed to be boring.

That's the point.

If they were exciting--really exciting, it would be because the transition from one presidency to another was fraught with an element of danger.

The main danger at American inaugurals is boredom.

Only once in our history was there genuine fear that the transition might not take place peacefully. That was in 1877. Two days earlier Rutherford B. Hayes had been installed as president following a disputed election settled by a special commission established by the Congress.

On the eve of the election it was rumored that the forces supporting the losing candidate, Samuel Tilden, might march on the capital and create a scene--and possibly resort to violence to prevent Hayes's installation.

But nothing happened.

Only once in the history of inaugurations has a president been faced with violence of any kind: that was Nixon in '68, when eggs were thrown at his motorcade. In 2001 Bush's motorcade was steered away from protesters.

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