Inauguration Diary: Fat cats and false notes

THERE WERE a few glitches at Monday's dress rehearsal of the Presidential Gala held last night. The sound system went briefly and Barbra Streisand's voice cracked on a high note at the end of a love ballad, Evergreen. She covered it by thanking Mr Clinton for making 'having a hoarse voice fashionable again'.

Otherwise it was flawless dazzle, including Jack Lemmon, Michael Jackson (paler than ever), Goldie Hawn (her Dad played the saxophone at every inaugural from FDR to Carter), Warren Beatty, Aretha Franklin and Herbie Hancock. Jack Nicholson stepped on stage clutching shades and a bottle of Evian, but tactfully withdrew when the whoops of the crowd threatened to drown out the act in progress - a sober reading by Lemmon of historical soundbites of presidents past.

Barbra seemed puzzled when her delivery of a saccharine eulogy of the incoming President - 'I'm thankful for your health, your stamina and your joy in the work before you' - drew loud giggling. 'What's funny about that?' she asked. She was unable to see monitors showing a less than convincing stand-in couple, with Hillary portrayed by a man with a beard.

Aretha, meanwhile, has become the target of the politically correct brigade offended by a mink coat she wore for the 'American Reunion' outdoor concert on Sunday. That is not how Democrats are meant to dress. There have been mutterings too about a ball held at Union Station in honour of James Carville, Mr Clinton's fiery campaign manager from Louisiana, known as the Ragin' Cajun. The lavish buffet featured large alligator skulls biting into plates of spicy alligator sausage. Waiters replenishing the tables flapped alligator jaw-bones in the faces of the revellers. A spokesman for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was unimpressed. 'Exotic meats are a little extreme, a little beyond defensible by taste or culture,' he said. Mr Carville has invited his critics for a rare steak dinner at the Palm Restaurant.

There has been aggravation too for the great and the grand lodged for the week at the Mayflower Hotel, next door to the Independent office. Five men dressed as 'Fat Cats', with tails, whiskers, pot-bellies and cigars, raucously picketed yesterday against the role of big money in Mr Clinton's rise to power. 'The Best President Money Can Buy' said their placards. Their disgust was doubtless fuelled by revelations that 13 out of his 18 cabinet members are former lawyer-lobbyists. The big corporations, meanwhile, are greasing palms by bridging a huge deficit in the inauguration budget. USAir is flying hundreds of guests to Washington free. Chrysler, General Motors and Ford are providing 500 cars. Motorola has donated 500 cellular phones, 900 walkie-talkies and 200 pagers for staff. Bloomingdales is outfitting selected ball guests in black-tie attire. Sadly, the store has not offered to smarten up your diarist for the big one tonight.

Among the many riding the new Washington broom to fortune are the owners of a new restaurant on Capital Hill, Slick Willie's. The speciality is a 'Big Willie' burger. They insist there is nothing obscene about the dish - a simple beef patty with a double helping of cheese. They are waiting for Bill to drop by.

Making money from a presidential accession can be a family affair. Jimmy Carter's brother, Billy, sold a brand of beer named after him and offered his services as a consultant to Libya. Then there was the Reagan daughter, Patti Davis, who pocketed dosh from a book about living with parental abuse. Now it's the turn of Bill Clinton's half-brother, Roger. Kept out of view during the election - he has had drug and alcohol problems - he is due tonight to appear with his rock band, Politics, at the MTV Rock and Roll Inaugural Ball. He is reported to have signed a dollars 200,000 ( pounds 130,000) contract with Atlantic Records and hopes to charge dollars 10,000 for making speeches.

Mr Bush has been carrying out his last-minute business in spartan surroundings. Our moles in the White House report that the Oval Office and other rooms of state have been stripped bare and the painters are giving the whole interior a new coat. The last entry in the Bushes' official diary is coffee with the new First Couple at 10.15 this morning, before riding with them by limo to Capitol Hill for Bill's swearing in. The Bushes then depart for Andrews Air Force Base and a last flight aboard the presidential jumbo to their new home in Houston. And thus, this afternoon George joins that exclusive club of retired US presidents along with Ronny, Jimmy, Gerald and Richard.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?