An inauguration diary

By Isabel Lyman
web posted January 29, 2001

While black-armband-wearing Northampton "citizens" were mourning the "loss of democracy," this conservative had an inauguration to celebrate. A peek into my diary from my recent weekend in Washington, D.C.:

Jan. 19, Friday evening: It's raining when I arrive at historic Union Station. Hubby, driving in from a trip to Oklahoma, meets my train. He delivers bad news. Earlier that evening, he had found the Oklahoma congressman's office in the Rayburn Building (the place to pick up the tickets for the swearing-in ceremony) was staff-free. No tickets tonight. Hoping someone would show, Hubby Goldilocks made himself at home, munched the snacks in the empty office, and, like a good Republican, checked his stocks on the office's computer.

I am scheduled to speak at a "National Patriots Rally" in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building the next morning. So, the immediate plan is a good night's sleep in a hotel in Arlington, Va., not on the congressman's couch. Federal hospitality, unlike federal spending, has its limits.

Jan. 20, Saturday morning: Up at seven, and it's still wet. I drink coffee in the car while Hubby Chauffeur dodges roadblocks, limos, and cops on Massachusetts Avenue. Soon, it's almost nine o'clock - showtime - and we are stuck in traffic. Time to bolt the car and be like Marion. Marion Jones, that is. I am clueless where to run to and fear I'll end up at an "America has been Bushwhacked" protest by mistake. Dreadful thought!

The author at the festivities
The author at the festivities

Fortunately, I stumble upon a sea of "Welcome President Bush!" signs, and I spot another speaker, my pal the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson of Los Angeles, who is fired up to denounce the bad boy of the moment - the Rev. Jesse Jackson - as a racist demagogue. David Horowitz, the former leftist and author of "Radical Son," is also part of the line-up. Soon, Kevin Conner, the master of ceremonies, begins the rally and introduces me as a famous columnist. Yeah, right.

Acknowledging that I'm from the People's Republic of Massachusetts, I rail against Saint Ted Kennedy and his unfair treatment of John Ashcroft, while indifferent strangers pass by and sirens blare in the background. Political agitation is harder than it looks.

The gist of my message is a laundry list of policy areas I hope Dubya will put on his agenda of reform (e.g. the military, abortion and a tax cut). At one point, I whip off my maroon beret, tell the gawkers that "the Lascivious Lewinsky era is over" and don a white cowboy hat. "Don't mess with Texas!"

When I'm done, pesky reporters want details about my claim to fame ... oh-oh. Fortunately, I am rescued by a friendly face from the Bay State. It's John Shaughnessy, a college student, who tells me he hopes the new Bush administration will "halt the assault on the Constitution." Me, too.

After chatting with this articulate young hombre, I decide to return to Rayburn for another attempt to get our tickets to the ceremony. I do, and encounter the mother of all lines. Rats! Like most Americans, Hubby Cold-n-Wet and I end up watching the inauguration festivities on television in our warm lodgings.

Jan. 20, evening: We arrive at the Wyndham Hotel on M Street for the "Count the White House Silverware Party," organized by "freepers" - an on-line community of activists affiliated with It's a prophetically named ball. In the next couple of days, the Daily Mail of London reports that the Clintons will leave 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with $200,000 worth of stuff.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and his band, Capitol Offense, provide the classic rock tunes at this lively shindig, which has drawn 1,000 folks, including Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia and Paul Klenk, who staged a one-man Sore Loserman demonstration in Times Square. Between breaks, the bass-playing Huckabee tells me why he won't miss Hillary's husband: "We need strong conservative principles in the White House, and George W. Bush will provide that." Freeper Connie Hair, Alan Keyes' press secretary, adds, "Dignity is going to come back to the White House." Another freeper, Tom Amberg of Silicon Valley, offers an edgier response: "From someone who is an agnostic, I am praising the Lord that Bill Clinton is gone."

As I laugh, I realize that despite the rain on our little parade, this day has been memorable. The party ends when James Golden, a.k.a. Bo Snerdley (Rush Limbaugh's former call screener), announces, "The long national nightmare is over!" Indeed.

Izzy Lyman, author of The Homeschooling Revolution, can be reached at

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