Apparently, only a few.
Who figured America’s presidential inaugural would be recalibrated by a gruesome twist in American history: sedition fueled by an accelerator named President Donald Trump and his thug acolytes.
The recent attack of domestic terrorism by the latest version of the historic “Plug Uglies,” is not expected to force President-elect Joseph Biden’s inauguration off the steps of the nation’s Capitol this week.
But it’s a good bet the nation’s “House,” invaded last week by soldiers of Trump’s alternative universe, will be hoovered by a “Star Wars” sized military force ostensibly protecting celebrants looking sideways — and facing the possibility of a pat-down rather than a pat on the back.
Sadly, our nation’s inaugural transfer of power used to be a ball, a bash to celebrate the success of democracy.
Literally. Black-tie events were de rigueur; backrooms were filled with raucous jokes and dirty martinis.
So much fun, silly stuff, national joy, a chance to toss political toppers and party, party, party minus political calculus.
Flags were waved — not used as weapons.
Kickapoo joy juice flowed like the Potomac.
Drivers were hired weeks in advance to maneuver streets jammed with D.C. merrymakers, rather than streets shut down for safety concerns. No limo? No taxi? No dice.
There was no social OR political distancing.
Sneed hears a lot of Dem heavyweights have expressed interest in attending the inaugural, but may not be going — or taking their wives and families along for fear of COVID-19 and the presence of Trump’s cockeyed cavalry.
Back in January 1989, the inaugural festivities for President-elect George H. W. Bush included such hard news as the unexpected attendance of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of Bush’s severest critics.
Jackson decided at the last minute because “it was not a Republican event but an event for the Republic,” my column at the time noted.
Big scoops abounded in private rooms; but the public was hungry for frolic flotsam and evening gowns were trotted out.
My column reported: “The Bush family has booked 90 of the 100 rooms in D.C.’s Jefferson Hotel for the inauguration weekend; President Bush eschews Brussels sprouts, but likes yogurt with grape nuts or granola for breakfast ... the only president born in June; and that he and wife Barbara Bush had the ninth-longest marriage of all time among presidents.”
And lest we forget, veep Dan Quayle’s wife, Marilyn, “coached her daughter’s little league team.”
Zzzz, you say!
Well, hey! The nation’s capital was on holiday! Time to hoopla with future sources later mined for a newsman’s gold.
It was a hoot collecting frivolous flotsam in January 1993, when William Jefferson Clinton was sworn in as our nation’s 42nd president.
Sneed’s column dispatched “postcards” from Clinton’s inaugural, which was Arkansan downmarket compared to President Bush’s New England Brahmin event four years earlier.
It included news that Clinton’s mother, Virginia Kelly, was staying in a $2,500 a night suite at the Willard Hotel, where she was spotted in the lobby bathroom getting ready for the Absolutely Unofficial Blue Jeans Ball Sunday night.
The inaugural committee also noted “everything connected to the inaugural package was printed on recycled paper” and Sneed reported “that 30 alligators were turned into Cajun sausage and served at an inaugural party honoring Clinton campaign strategist James Carville.” The rest of the Carville crocodile menu was based “on recipes of Miss Nippy, Carville’s mother. Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, Judy Collins and Tom Brokaw were spotted staring at the alligator skulls adorning the table.”
On a more serious side, Sneed also reported “Navy frogmen were dispatched to the Potomac River at 6 a.m. Sunday to secure the area around Memorial Bridge. Why? To ensure the bridge wasn’t blown up during Clinton’s march to ring the replica of the Liberty Bell.”
Then there was the pinch of celeb powder tossed in for spice.
“Singer Aretha Franklin was spotted shaking the crumbs of the giant Eli’s cheesecake out of the sleeves of her sable coat!...Warren Beatty hit the tarmac at Washington National Airport wearing black Reeboks, dark glasses and jeans. He was accompanied by wife Annette Bening and baby Kathlyn, and HE carried the baby blue diaper bag.”
And, of course, actress Faye Dunaway brought her 12-year-old son, Liam, to the inaugural because she wanted him to shake the hand of the man who ‘“is going to drastically change the world in which he grows up.’”
“Now there’s a reason.”
So now 38 years later — on the eve of the nation’s 59th presidential inaugural — we wonder:
- Will Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, make good on her rumored desire to attend the inauguration of her father’s nemesis?
- Will the Trump Washington, D.C., hotel be filled ... by Democrats?
- Will security permit Biden to visit the grave of his son, Beau, who exacted a promise from his father to run for president?
- Will Lady Gaga dress up in John Q. Public duds to perform the National Anthem?
- Will Trump show up in horns and a mankini to direct traffic?
Who knows anything nowadays.