The festivities will be enormous. Washington D.C. will be one big partyground and may very well be stuck with a large chunk of the bill, too. The security arrangements, too, will be unprecedented, which is the only tiny reminder of the fact that this inauguration may be a tiny bit awkward in times of war and tsunamis and general unhappiness among most thinking and feeling people:
Dozens of federal and local law enforcement agencies and military commands are planning what they describe as the heaviest possible security. Virtually everyone who gets within eyesight of the president either during the Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol or the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue later in the day will first go through a metal detector or receive a body pat-down.
Thousands of police officers and military personnel are being brought to Washington from around the country for the four-day event. Sharpshooters will be deployed on roofs, while bomb-sniffing dogs will work the streets. Electronic sensors will be used to detect chemical or biological weapons.
Anti-abortion protesters have been warned to leave their crosses at home. Parade performers will have security escorts to the bathroom, and they've been ordered not to look directly at President Bush or make any sudden movements while passing the reviewing stand.
That crosses have been banned has raised the predictable furor about religious discrimination. Though the banned items include anything big enough to be used as a weapon (including paper mache puppets!), the fundamentalists want to flail their crosses freely. I think that they should be allowed to do so, actually, though I find it hard to see what the symbol of crucifixion would do to cheer up the partying.
But the thing about parade performers not being allowed to look directly at Bush is eerie. It brings to mind all sorts of things about being turned into stone or salt if one looks at the wrong thing. Some cheeky monkeys think it even reminds them of my dear Medusa! Of course it's also traditional not to look directly at us divinities, though Georgie doesn't qualify. I wonder if he's shaking in his boots?
Then there will be singing and rejoicing, especially by Kid Rock. Do you think that he will sing "Fuck U Blind" and "Balls in Your Mouth"? And will the fundie youth join in the refrains?
What else should I mention about the inaugural balls? Oh, of course! I'm supposed to report on the dresses of the royal women. That is my proper feminine duty. Well, Laura is going to wear something predictable and boring, I predict, but the princesses are going to be dressed in something most revealing:
Unlike their mother, the twins opted not to go the subdued, covered-up route. "These are not shy-girl dresses," says James Mischka, who with his partner, Mark Badgley, designed a gown for each daughter. "They wanted to look sophisticated and glamorous but young at the same time." More Hollywood than Washington, Jenna Bush's figure-hugging sheath is emerald silk crepe, accented by jeweled insets and metallic leather banding. "It is very much a siren gown," Mischka says.
Featuring flowy, ruffled silk chiffon in aquamarine, Barbara Bush's gown for the Texas State Society's Black Tie & Boots ball has "more of a romantic feeling," says Mischka. "Sort of like the 1930s, but totally modern because of the bare back and the way the dress is cut" — down to there. Despite the plunging necklines, Mischka feels confident that this time around the twins are "not going to have any wardrobe malfunctions" as they Texas two-step. While dancing with her dad in 2001, Jenna experienced such a red-faced moment when her strapless dress dipped farther than intended.
George himself will probably wear his usual mysterious box on the back of his suit.
We of the sour-grapes camp are desperately planning our own celebrations for the event. More about those later.