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Hello, Goodbye - Inauguration 2024
Maybe Bill can Hire Hillary's Interns

By Kirsten Andersen


January has never been a month I relish.  For one thing, people place too many expectations on the first thirty-one days of the year.  Everyone sets out to lose weight, balance the checkbook, or watch less C-Span (you know who you are).  By Valentine's Day, everyone is bloated, broke, and back in front of the tube with a vengeance.  As if that were not bad enough, it is twenty-five degrees and the next long weekend (for those of us not employed by Uncle Sam) is sometime in much for a tropical escape.

Despite my antipathy toward January, this year's first month is showing promise.  We just had a Presidential Election (for those of you who have been in a coma or vacationing on Mars), and we are in the middle of the transition to a new administration.  Washington has a different sort of buzz to it lately.  People are fascinated, if not overjoyed, by the prospect of new neighbors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This Inauguration Day will be my first as a DC dweller.  I intend to participate fully, from the swearing-in to the parade to the all-night parties.  Unlike normal little girls who dreamed of going to the Royal Ball with Prince Charming, when I was small I fantasized about the Inaugural Ball.  Less than a year ago, I was working for a presidential candidate and dreaming the same dream much more vividly.  I would walk through the racks at Bloomingdale's and think about what I would be wearing if we won.  I knew it was a long shot, but it was less depressing than planning what to do if the campaign didn't work out (obviously, it didn't).

I used to think that there was only one Inaugural Ball, but it turns out there are nine.  I also used to think you had to work for the President or be a major donor to attend, but that is not true either, so I plan on going to two balls.  I have spent the past two weekends searching rather unsuccessfully for a gown to wear.  It seems I cannot step out of a dressing room and in front of the three-way mirror without eliciting twelve older women's stories of their first time at the Inauguration.  Some of the stories are great, but if I hear one more tale about the beautiful dress that lost its skirt when it was stepped on, I am wearing a miniskirt-black tie be damned!

Inauguration is not all about the events of January 20th, of course, and 'transition' is more than a technical term for assembling a Cabinet.  The next few weeks will be a true transition for all Americans, as we welcome President Bush and bid farewell to President Clinton.

I may do my fair share of Clinton bashing, and I certainly will not miss what he has done to the nation, but I admit it is strange to see the man go. I came of age during the Clinton Presidency, and I was practically raised on Rush Limbaugh's scorching commentaries about the administration.  Now that Slick Willy is leaving, there is a void where the object of my ire used to be. 

From a professional standpoint, I have mixed feelings.  On one hand, it is always valuable in any branch of politics to have your ideological ally in the White House.  Journalism and political commentary are included in that statement, as evidenced by the soaring success of CNN during the Clinton Administration (can we expect the same of Fox News Channel with Bush in power?).  On the other hand, there is nothing quite like moral outrage to stir up feelings and help write a great opinion piece.

One almost hopes Clinton sticks around a little while, just to keep things interesting.  Perhaps his wife will give him a job on Capitol Hill, sending faxes and penning legislation.  He could even hire the interns.

As for Bush, I hope he is half as boring as I think he is going to be.  If I have to opine about Senator Hillary and Dick Gephardt for the next four or eight years, so be it, but what this country needs is a little presidential ennui.  If President Bush can get the White House back to a G-rating, it will be a bigger accomplishment than all the 'New Economies' in the world. With any luck, Inauguration 2024 will be the kick-off for an extraordinarily dull four years.

Kirsten Andersen, 2024

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