John McCaslin

Once Mr. Obama has taken the oath of office and delivered his inaugural address, and following a brief farewell for President George W. Bush, the newly sworn president will be escorted into the U.S Capitol's Statuary Hall for the traditional inaugural luncheon.

The menu for this feast will be a far cry from Mr. Obama's recent highly publicized smoked sausage-and-cheese fries lunch at the greasy Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street, where the president-elect returned not once, not twice, but three times to the counter to retrieve shredded cheese, bottled water, and napkins.

The backdrop for Mr. Obama's inaugural luncheon, as tradition dictates, will be a prized painting borrowed especially for the occasion, titled "View of the Yosemite Valley," by Thomas Hill, reflecting the dawn of a new era. (For one of Bill Clinton's inaugurals, a portrait of Thomas Jefferson was displayed above the head table).

Instead of a half-smoke, Mr. Obama will dine on seafood stew, a brace of American birds (pheasant and duck), molasses sweet potatoes, and a slice of apple sponge cake. The main course will be served on purple-red hue replicas of the Lincoln presidency china, selected by Mary Todd Lincoln, featuring the American bald eagle.

It is tradition for the new president to be presented with gifts by Congress on behalf of all Americans. This year, we will give Mr. Obama a framed photograph of his swearing-in ceremony, a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol during his inaugural and an engraved Lenox crystal bowl depicting the White House and inscribed: "Barack H. Obama, January 20, 2009, The Presidential Inaugural."


Washington lawyer and New York Times best-selling author Christopher C. Horner was passing through airport security Tuesday prior to boarding his early morning flight "when the woman behind me - by all appearances a fully functioning adult who had managed to make it beyond the check-in step - replied that, yes, the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] officer could look in her bag, but to 'be careful, it could be exploding.'

"Silent, confused stare, then-stammer from TSA," says Mr. Horner.

Realizing she'd uttered an untimely, if not unlawful response, the woman immediately reassured the officers: "Oh, I mean things could be falling out."

Quips Mr. Horner: "At least she didn't then call out to her friend, 'Hi, Jack!' "

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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