Tight Security Expected for Bush Inauguration

Security is expected to be very tight in Washington when President George Bush is inaugurated for a second term on January 20.  Security planners are concerned about terrorists and protesters.

The president seems anxious to begin his second term and start tackling some of the campaign pledges he made to reform the tax system and the government pension program known as Social Security.

"I like to confront problems," said Mr. Bush.  "I like to work with people so that we can say we left behind a better America after it is all said and done, and I do not have that much time here in Washington, so I am ready to work."

But before the work can begin in earnest, the president must take the constitutionally required oath of office on January 20, an American political ritual that has taken place every four years since George Washington was sworn in as the nation's first president in 1789.

This will be the first presidential inauguration since the 2001 terrorist attacks and security will be extremely tight.  Security officials are saying little about their plans to counter the threat of both terrorism and protesters, but thousands of police are expected to be on hand for the inauguration ceremony, parade, and formal balls.

Anti-war activists are planning extensive protests around the inaugural.  Gael Murphy is with a group called Code Pink, Women for Peace.

"I would say that it is going to be quite difficult to disrupt events," she noted.  "But I think that it is critical for our voices to be heard, not just for this administration to hear our voices, but for the rest of the world to know that we are still mobilized, that we are still opposing the Bush policies."

Historically, presidential inaugurations have been opportunities for the incoming or re-elected president to heal the political divide from the election just past and unify the country.

President Bush made an attempt at that four-years ago following his narrow victory over Al Gore.

"And this is my solemn pledge.  I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity," he said.

Mr. Bush won a more convincing victory this time, by winning 51-48 percent of the vote over Democrat John Kerry.

Marvin Krantz is a historian at the Library of Congress in Washington.  He says many Americans view a presidential inauguration as an important symbol of the continuity of democracy.

"But clearly, the presidential inauguration marks a kind of change and it is part and parcel of what we are as Americans because we accept this sense of change," he said.  "We know it is a legitimate change and we accept it, even in times of stress, we recognize this.  And those of us who might be in opposition who comes into office, he is still the president of all of us and we have to live under the new rules that are established."

But some political analysts believe the president faces a daunting challenge in trying to bring the country together in the wake of another close election.

Professor John White is an expert on U.S. presidents at Catholic University in Washington.

"I am sure the president will try to do that [bring the country together] with this inauguration.  But given the deep divisions within the country, divisions that have only deepened in the past four years, I think it is going to be harder for him to try to bring the country together even though he won a decisive victory," said Mr. White.

The president will take the oath of office around midday on January 20 at an outdoor ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol building.  Mr. Bush will then review a parade that includes 10,000 marchers and features 45 marching bands.  In the evening, the president and First Lady Laura Bush will attend several inaugural balls where supporters will celebrate his re-election victory in November.

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