Barack Obama's second inauguration: an oath ceremony that's only for show

  • @dusborne

Everything is going swimmingly so far in the four-day bash that is Barack Obama’s second inauguration as President of the United States, or POTUS to the Secret Service and the White House correspondents who must keep tabs on him. 

If you are wondering, Michelle is FLOTUS as in, “FLOTUS was in a dark blue dress by Reed Krakoff”.

That, by the way, is the word from the West Wing on the First Lady’s attire for the actual, official swearing-in of her husband yesterday.  The Constitution says presidents must take the oath of office on 20 January. When he does it again on the west steps of the Capitol today it will be for show. “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…”

Fashion is what it’s about, never mind the inaugural address. Take this conversation with a friend who runs women’s magazines.  Yes, I told her, that was broadcast icon Barbara Walters lying face down on the floor of the British ambassador’s des-res on Saturday after losing her footing. She wasn’t having it. “That wasn’t Barbara. I talked to Barbara and that wasn’t what she was wearing”.  I don’t notice these things, but Barbara it was.

Not a great inauguration for Ms Walters. (She was hospitalised last night under observation.)  But everyone else is walking on air. The Republicans have fled town so the Democrats have it all to themselves.  Not that that lessens the traffic.  So many parties.  When you get to them the human crush is worse.  If you are Senator John Kerry – soon to be Secretary of State – you create your own crush.  I saw it at a Sunday brunch given by Tina Brown of Newsweek/Daily Beast.  The man barely made it into the room with everyone trying to shake his hand. Sorry John.

Tina knows how to draw a crowd. Barack should make her ambassador in London.  Cast members from Glee were there, ex Secretaries of State (two), and, while not the president himself, people very, very close to him.  David Axelrod told me more good news. Remember Mr Obama’s inaugural address four years ago? “Didn’t like it,” David said in my ear.  I do recall being disappointed. Today’s speech, he says, will be much, much better.  Let’s see.

Tina, of course, is not up for an ambassadorship. But the lady from Beverly Hills with the spikey white hair (and receipts of large donations to Mr Obama) wanted me to know that she was particularly heartened by the latest gossip that Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, will  not in fact be America’s next envoy to the Court of St James.  Why, I asked? “Haven’t you seen The Devil Wears Prada?” she rejoined.  Lord, we are talking about fashion again.