- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

Wear a scarf

Given the tragic global events during the past four years, one might expect President Bush to be “serious and even somber” when he delivers his second inaugural address on Jan. 20.

In fact, those same words described Mr. Bush’s demeanor while delivering his first inaugural address Jan. 20, 2001. On that historic day, of course, his mood centered less on world affairs and more on political divisions that surrounded his election victory.

Duration of Mr. Bush’s first inaugural speech: a mere 14 minutes.

A far cry from the 1841 inaugural address of William Henry Harrison, whose claim to presidential fame is having delivered the longest inaugural speech and served the shortest term in office.

Hardly dressed for the weather, “Old Tippecanoe” (a distant relative of this columnist) spoke outdoors for 1 hour and 45 minutes — on a cold, wet, late-winter day. A month later, he was dead from pneumonia.

Inaugural visitors should know that the normal high temperature in Washington for Jan. 20 is 42 degrees, the average low 26 (the record low for the date is minus 2 degrees). Next week’s long-range weather forecast calls for a period of rain or snow showers in the hours preceding inaugural festivities.

Rattlesnakes

Among its 2005 presidential inaugural activities and amenities in celebration of the second term of PresidentBush, the Ritz-Carlton Hotels of Washington will be serving guests gourmet rattlesnake nachos.

(Gene Mueller, this newspaper’s outdoors columnist, says rattlesnake has “the consistency of lobster meat, albeit a bit softer. I’ve eaten quite a bit, in fact.”)

To wash down the rattlers, Texan distiller Tito Beveridge will be on hand at the various Ritz properties, pouring fellow guests his famous Tito’s Vodka from Austin.

Finally, filtering through the Ritz atmosphere will be a repertoire of piano favorites, including “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Happy Days Are Here Again” — and again.

and turtles

Washington’s Willard Hotel, one block from the White House, has searched its records to reveal that Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural luncheon at the historic property consisted of corned beef and cabbage, turtle soup and blackberry pie.

In fact, the president-elect stayed with his family at the Willard for an entire month, and his first presidential paycheck went toward his hotel bill of $773.75.

The Willard was described as bursting at the seams on the eve of Lincoln’s first inauguration, when visitors were packed 10 and more to a room. As Harper’s Weekly described one scene:

“Four bearded and otherwise long-haired individuals of the masculine gender are deposited on a bed which is hardly big enough to hold Tom Thumb and his wife. These individuals are fast asleep, and evidently snoring; four lads are placed in the middle of the bed and they lie in pairs, and on the left lie two more fat gentlemen, dead asleep on their backs, with their knees up, and their noses pointed thankfully to the ceiling.”

Top cat

Total number of cats that entered the Cat Fanciers’ Association’s 2004 “Best Cat” championship competition: 31,899

Points by which a cat named Colin Powell defeated the runner-up: 114

Harper’s Index, January 2005

Eschewing meat

Any sensible person would

Avoid a mad cow if he could,

But I’m willing to take

A rare chance with a steak

‘Cause there’s nothing that tastes so good

F.R. Duplantier

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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