The Magazine

What We Saw at the Inauguration

Feb 4, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 20
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Thousands of patriots trekked to Washington not to witness the inauguration, but to be of service. These volunteers weren’t paid for waiting on those who ponied up for the evening balls, but they had the satisfaction of knowing they helped make history—by, for instance, ferrying journalists to the restroom.

What We Saw at the Inauguration

Newscom

One, we sheepishly admit, was The Scrapbook. President Obama’s special relationship with the media had us looking forward to enjoying the official inaugural ball from the special press section. Hotel California would have been a better name: Once you were in, you couldn’t leave.

Should reporters need to use the facilities, the Presidential Inaugural Committee allotted volunteers to escort us. Just as if we were visiting, say, North Korea. The bathroom was only 200 feet from the media prison—errr, playpen—but our escort, a retired businesswoman, waited patiently outside. Then we needed a drink. She steered us away from a nearby bartender, explaining she had a better connection.

She certainly did. The bartender added a complimentary glass of wine to the order—which was promptly consumed by our escort. Other journalists attempted to secure drinks, but were denied by their escorts. Our generous tipping was paying dividends, much as buying “insurance” from organized crime does. Crony capitalism is the Chicago way. And for the next four years, it will continue to be the Washington way.

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