Bush Adds a "First" for Inaugural History

By: Whitney Holmes
By: Whitney Holmes

Thursday afternoon, January 20th, the United States President was sworn in for the 55th time. In those 55 times, there was a lot of historical firsts.

Charlottesville's own, Thomas Jefferson was the first to be inaugurated in Washington, DC. James Monroe was the first to be inaugurated outside, and without a powdered wig. In 1949, after FDR's death, Harry Truman's inauguration was the first to be televised.

In 1993, harkening back to good ol' Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton arrived from Monticello in a motorcade for his first inauguration. Four years later, he was the first to be inaugurated live in cyberspace.

How can someone beat that?

Well, says Matt Smythe from the UVA Center for Politics, President Bush can, at least in dollar signs.

"This inauguration will be most expensive in American history," said Smythe. "That's a trend that's been maintained. Each one is bigger and the value of the dollar declines so each inauguration gets more expensive."

President Bush is also the first to be inaugurated with a record–low approval rating, says Larry Sabato from the Center for Politics.

"He starts his second term with the lowest approval rating on average of any president, first or second term, since polls were taken in the 1930s. He needs to gain political capital to unite the people. It's not critical for the president since he won't be running again, but important," said Sabato.

Bush's Inaugural address was typically broad, but his State of the Union will lay our more specific policy agendas.


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