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Obama's historic inauguration capped by non-grassroots elite lunch

January 11, 2009 |  1:54 am

The Capitol's Statuary Hall where the elite will meet to eat immediately after the Barack Obama inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 20

In the interests of an open presidential inauguration that celebrates the political, emotional and financial power of grassroots Americans striving for change, a special congressional committee has planned an extremely exclusive, very traditional lunch in the Capitol right after Barack Obama's inaugural address on Jan. 20.

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (they do love their committees, don't they?) has planned this special affair for themselves, congressional leaders, families, justices and new Cabinet members. Nobody else need apply. Not even ordinary members of Congress.

They're not letting Joe Biden give a vice presidential address, probably because by the time he got done, it would have to be an inaugural dinner. But after Saddleback pastor Rick Warren annoys the bejesus out of some Obama supporters with an evangelical invocation and everybody takes their oaths and Obama speaketh for the first time as commander in chief, we'll get the benediction from the Rev. Joseph Lowery.

Obama will escort then-ex-President George W. Bush and suddenly former-First Lady Laura Bush to their armored car for the ride to the airport and trip back to Texas for the last time on Air Force One.

Then, while maybe a million people stamp their feet in the cold along the not-yet-started parade route and perhaps buy overpriced hot dogs, the joint committee, led by its chairwoman, California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and its 200 guests will dine on fake Lincoln-era china and sip genuine California wines.

We'll print the exquisite menu down below (click on the "Read more" line). You can copy down the honorable recipes yourself by clicking here. Then, because the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, seems to be back in fashion (Obama will take the oath on the same Bible used by the president who ended slavery), we'll also include below a little piece of history, the menu for Lincoln's inaugural dinner in 1865.

Suffice to say, on this Jan. 20 while the big shots are munching seafood stew and duck and washing it down with apple cinnamon sponge cake, you won't be able to buy pheasant on D.C.'s sidewalks.

While lovely music plays and stone statues statuesquely peer over diners' shoulders, Congressional leaders will suck up to the president for possibly the last time by giving him some gifts. Don't tell him, but they include an already-framed photo of his swearing-in, the Capitol flag that was flying at that moment and a one-of-a kind engraved crystal bowl to fill with popcorn in the White House theater.

Oh, and Biden gets a bowl too. So it's really sort of two-of-a-kind, except for the different engraved names.

Then, after everyone helps with the dishes, the new First Couple will kick off the Inaugural parade by riding down Pennsylvania Avenue, waving. Because Congressional leaders don't run the parade, that part will be open to the public.

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: National Statuary Hall. Credit: U.S. Congress

The 2009 Inaugural Luncheon Menu
First Course
Seafood Stew
Duckhorn Vineyards, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Second Course
A Brace of American Birds (pheasant and duck), served with Sour Cherry Chutney and Molasses Sweet Potatoes
Goldeneye, 2005 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley
Third Course
Apple Cinnamon Sponge Cake and Sweet Cream Glacé
Korbel Natural “Special Inaugural Cuvée,” California Champagne

Now just for fun, here courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution is the menu for President Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Dinner, March 6, 1865. Especially intriguing is the "Beef a la Mode."


Illustration from the Smithsonian Institution.