Friday, November 24, 2017

Inauguration notebook: Fashion, singers, poets and past presidents


Two Bibles used: Lincoln's and King's

President Barack Obama said it was a privilege to take the oath of office using a Bible that had been owned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. After a luncheon hosted by members of Congress, Obama paused by a statue of King in the Capitol Rotunda. "You know this is the first time I have seen this," he said. The King bust — a bronze sculpture 36 inches high on a 66-inch high Belgian black marble base — has been in the Capitol Rotunda since 1986, according to the Architect of the Capitol. King's Bible was one of two Obama used for the ceremonial inauguration. "I had the great privilege that the Bible we used was his Bible and they asked for it to be inscribed," Obama said. The other Bible belonged to President Abraham Lincoln.

New Democrat Crist was 'impressed'

Times political editor Adam C. Smith caught up with former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist after the inauguration. "It was just beautiful and a great speech. I was very impressed, really impressed," said Crist, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Carole. Monday night Crist was headed to a black tie ball and later to a reception at the White House. The Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat said he's optimistic Obama and the GOP-controlled House will work more cooperatively in his second term. "I think the re-election is a reaffirmation, and some of the actions we've already seen by the Republicans in Congress bear that out," said Crist, citing the extension of the debt ceiling and deal on taxes. "The American people and the people of our state spoke, and they said, 'Forward,' " said Crist, who was spotted in an FSU sweatshirt and jeans Monday afternoon on his way to buy a long overcoat.

What was that orange thing?

One question heard over and over: What was the bright orange thing on Florida Sen. Bill Nelson's head? He kept warm wearing a bright orange baseball hat with a camouflage visor. A spokesman said Nelson uses it for quail hunting.

Where was Rubio?

Sen. Nelson was clearly visible Monday but fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was nowhere near D.C. Where was he? "He's in Miami. Kids didn't have school today," said spokesman Alex Conant.

2 former presidents missing from event

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter joined lawmakers and other dignitaries at the Capitol for President Obama's ceremonial swearing-in Monday to a second term. The two men are the only living Democrats who have occupied the White House. Clinton was accompanied by his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is departing as Obama's second term gets under way. Former first lady Rosalynn Carter accompanied her husband. It was the first time since 1997 that George H.W. Bush missed inaugural festivities, according to his spokesman, Jim McGrath. George W. Bush, Obama's immediate predecessor in the White House, also did not attend. The elder Bush, who is 88 years old, was released from a Houston hospital last week after battling complications related to bronchitis, a stubborn fever and an infection.

Speech referenced 1969 Stonewall riots

President Obama referenced the Stonewall gay-rights riots in his inaugural address, classing them as a civil rights watershed along with key moments in the struggles for blacks and women. The president said that the truth that all are created equal guides us today "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall." The Stonewall riots happened in New York City in 1969 when patrons at a gay bar reacted to police harassment, and the events helped found the modern gay-rights movement. Obama, who has become increasingly outspoken in favor of gay rights and same-sex marriage, also said the nation's journey is not complete "until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law."

All eyes on the fashions

Designer Thom Browne found out that Michelle Obama had selected his design as her inaugural morning outfit about a half-hour after television viewers, who first saw the Obama family shortly before 9 a.m. Browne, most famous for his 12-year-old men's wear business, was in Paris, on his way to a sales meeting, when he began seeing messages. At the inaugural lunch, Mrs. Obama removed the navy silk jacquard coat to reveal the dress underneath. The silk jacquard dress followed the same silhouette as the coat — fitted at the bodice and slightly flared through the skirt. Her blue cardigan was reportedly by the designer Reed Krakoff. Mrs. Obama modified her looks throughout the day with a range of accessories, including a J. Crew belt she put on over the coat. All of the clothing and accessories will be given to the National Archives. Fourteen-year-old Malia Obama's coat also was from J.Crew, and Sasha Obama, 11, wore a coat and a dress from Kate Spade. Jill Biden's distinctive silvery coat, made of a shimmering silk and wool fabric, got a fair share of attention. Lela Rose, the designer of Dr. Biden's outfit, said Dr. Biden came to her in an unexpected way. Dr. Biden bought her dress at Neiman Marcus, and the store called Rose about a week and a half ago, looking for a matching coat. "I wanted to create a coat that looked good with the dress without being exactly a matching look," Rose said from her home in Sullivan County, N.Y.

As many as 1 million showed up on mall

An inauguration planning official says turnout was "definitely above 800,000" and possibly up to 1 million people. Chris Geldart, who directs the District of Columbia's homeland security and emergency management agency, says early and unofficial estimates of the number of people on the National Mall indicate a turnout higher than 800,000. That's based on aerial views of how the crowd filled sections of the mall. About 1.8 million people attended President Obama's first swearing-in in 2009.

Kind words for GOP adversaries at lunch

After an ideologically assertive inaugural address, President Obama used his toast at a luncheon in the ornate Statuary Hall at the Capitol on Monday to reach out to his Republican adversaries and strike a note of humility as he begins his second term. Raising a glass to Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and all the leaders of Congress, Obama said, "I recognize that democracy is not always easy, and I recognize there are profound differences in this room." But he thanked the leaders for their service and their families for their sacrifices, "because regardless of our political persuasions and perspectives, I know that all of us serve because we believe that we can make an America for future generations, and I'm confident that we can act at this moment in a way that makes a difference for our children and our children's children."

The best seat in the house

James Taylor kicked off the musical performances at Monday's ceremony on the Capitol steps, strumming his guitar and singing America the Beautiful. Kelly Clarkson followed with an unusual arrangement of My Country 'Tis of Thee. Beyonce sang the national anthem, and she had a definite fan in Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who applauded eagerly after she finished singing.

Applause offers sense of guests' popularity

Who does the Democratic base love? Here's a pretty good guide, based on audience reaction in Section 16 at President Barack Obama's second inaugural, where Times staff writer Louis Jacobson was seated. He provided this rundown of which political figures got cheers from the crowd when they appeared for the first time on the Jumbotron. The magic formula for winning adulation was a mixture of populist charm and wonky cred.

10:36 a.m.: First big cheer of the day … for Secretary of State nominee John Kerry. (Who would have imagined that the day after Election Day 2004?)

10:38 a.m.: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.

10:38 a.m.: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (a big one).

10:41 a.m.: Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (well, at least a smattering)

10:48 a.m.: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice (consolation prize)

10:52 a.m.: Beyonce and Jay-Z

10:52 a.m.: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter (clear evidence this is a Democratic crowd)

10:53 a.m.: Jill Biden (this crowd can pick her out of a lineup)

10:55 a.m.: First view of the president (rousing cheer)

10:56 a.m.: Hillary and Bill Clinton (biggest cheer yet)

11:09 a.m.: Sasha and Malia Obama

11:15 a.m.: Michelle Obama (a big cheer)

11:19 a.m.: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (a bigger cheer than for Joe Biden)

11:19 a.m.: The Obamas

Poet offers look at 'One Today'

Miami-raised poet Richard Blanco delivered an inaugural poem paying homage to the American experience with vivid scenes about America and reflections on his experience growing up as Cuban exile in New York City and Miami. He was born in Spain but emigrated to the United States with his Cuban parents. He was an engineer for South Miami before he took up poetry full-time. He now lives in Maine. In addition to being the youngest ever inaugural poet, Blanco, 44, was the first Hispanic and the first openly gay person to serve in the role. His poem, One Today, reflected on common American experiences:

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,

each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:

pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,

fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows

begging our praise.

Read the full text of Blanco's One Today at

Times staff writers Louis Jacobson, Adam C. Smith and Alex Leary contributed to this report, which also includes information from the Associated Press and New York Times.

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