Monday, January 12, 2009

Weekend Roundup

With just over a week remaining before the inauguration, officials ran through an inauguration rehearsal while the Obamas spent their first weekend in Washington as future first family.

Saturday, President-elect Obama went to lunch with DC Mayor Adrian Fenty at Ben’s Chili Bowl, a DC institution long considered one of the important centers of black culture in one of the capital cities of black America. True to his promise to be in better touch with DC than previous presidents, Obama accompanied Fenty to the grubby U-street diner rather than one of numerous fine restaurants reserved for Washington power brokers. They ordered the house special, chili half-smokes, a half-pork half-beef sausage smothered in chili. The half-smoke is DC’s signature dish. A sign in the restaurant which once read "People who eat free at Ben's: Bill Cosby and NO ONE ELSE" has been amended to read "People who eat free at Ben's: Bill Cosby and The Obama Family." Hand written beneath it someone wrote, "He Paid."

Later on Saturday, Obama visited the Lincoln Memorial with wife Michelle and their two daughters Malia and Sasha. Arriving after dark, the future first family toured the enormous temple at the west end of the National Mall, with its famous 20 ft statue of the 16th President and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and 2nd Inaugural Address inscribed on its walls. They toured the basement museum of Lincoln memorabilia before appearing briefly on the monument's white steps where they waved to passersby. Perhaps Mr Obama was looking for inspiration for his own inaugural address, which he will give a week from tomorrow at the opposite end of DC’s great common.

On Sunday, officials from the alphabet soup of different and complimentary inauguration committees performed a rehearsal of the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural parade. 26-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Derrick Brooks portrayed Obama, giving the shortest inaugural address in history, “My fellow Americans, God bless America.” LaSean McCray, a 36-year-old Navy yeoman first class, portrayed Michelle Obama. Several military and civilian bands marched in the mock parade from Capitol Hill to the White House, while officials twice practiced Marine One’s helicopter departure from the Capitol's East Plaza which will take George W Bush on the final ride of his presidency.

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