Inauguration Diary: The new Clinton era? A new term, a new hairdo; No crusts, please; Bad luck Anna; Party envy?


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The Independent US


The new Clinton era?

The weekend’s programme kicked off on Saturday with political royalty marking a day of national service. As rumours of her own political career continue to swirl, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea presided over a national service summit in a role some saw as a friendly leg-up from Camp Obama. “What are you doing for others?” she asked the crowd. “In my family, the only wrong answer to that question is nothing”.

A new term, a new hairdo

Barack and Michelle, meanwhile, went to help students and staff spruce up a Washington DC school, where the excitement seemed to be the new fringe (or “bangs”) sported by the First Lady.

No crusts, please

Still, things lightened up later when Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador, hosted a tea and champagne party in his fine Edwin Lutyens residence. It did not go unnoticed among American guests that crusts were removed from the cucumber sandwiches. How very Buckingham Palace. One guest will not remember the night with affection, however. Veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters lost her footing on the stairs as she left and bumped her head. An ambulance was called. “Out of an abundance of caution, she went to hospital to have her cut tended to and remains there for observation. Barbara is alert [and telling everyone what to do], which we take as a very positive sign,” said Jeffrey Schneider, a senior vice-president at the ABC network.

Bad luck Anna

Talking of ambassadors, rumours that Vogue editor Anna Wintour could be appointed US ambassador to Britain have finally been quashed. According to the more credible chatter, the post will go to Matthew Barzun, who spent 20 months as finance chairman of the President’s national fundraising operation. Back to the day job, Anna.

Party envy?

If party envy is getting you down (what do you mean you weren’t invited to Saturday’s youth ball at the National Portrait Gallery with, you can always stay in your hotel room, if you can afford one. Indeed, if an Oval Suite at Willard Hotel near the White House is serving as your digs you are more or less obliged not to leave it until check-out on Tuesday – the four-night package costs $22,800 (£14,400).