"I think it's good he took time out to spend with his soldiers," said Hill, of Birch Run, Mich. "It shows he supports us."
Good Evening Sunshine
In a pink and red gown, Lynne Cheney and her tuxedoed husband, Vice President Cheney, popped into the Liberty Ball for Floridians at the Washington Convention Center just after 7:30. The vice president said his boss gave a superb inaugural address, and he congratulated Florida on getting better and better and better. Then he said he had to scoot.
"We are scheduled for a few more events this evening," he told the crowd, "and the president expects me bright and early tomorrow morning. But if you don't mind, I'd like to ask for some music so that I can dance with my date."
He and Lynne then danced to "The Way You Look Tonight" and made an exit.
Being Miss Florida, Jenna Edwards has had to be careful about being partisan either way. "I'm moderate," said Edwards, who was recognizable by her silver tiara and by the Miss Florida business cards she was handing out.
At one point, bristle-haired boxing (and self-) promoter Don King appeared out of nowhere. "I love George Walker Bush," he barked repeatedly to a group of reporters. His cloudlike hair was aglow in floodlights and he wore two silver-studded "Don" necklaces. King, 73, said the president has appointed him chairman of African American affairs.
DiAnn Toney of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was just relieved to get inside the Democracy Ball at the Convention Center. "We're standing in line all day with the inauguration," she said. "After waiting 45 minutes we had no feeling in the feet when we got here."
Her friend Jane Jessee, of Upland, Calif., was unhappy to discover when they arrived that there were no tables and only a smattering of seats, except in the exclusive VIP section. Once someone got a seat, the occupant would refuse to move, leaving others to plop down on the floor in their ball gowns.
"This inauguration is very disorganized," Jessee said. "But we still love our President Bush. And make sure you write that down."
The arrival of Vice President and Lynne Cheney livened up the decidedly low-key ball, where guests were doing more eating than dancing and indulged in more casual conversation than any raucous celebration.
Acknowledging the various states at the multi-state event, Cheney thanked South Dakotans for "beating Larry Pressler."
"No!" the crowd roared. Pressler was a Republican senator.
Cheney then started laughing at himself.
"No, that was four years ago, "he said. "I totally blew it. Oh, what's his name?"
He paused for a moment.
"Tom Daschle! He's no longer with us and we appreciate it."
Getting in Dutch
Though there was no official poem for the occasion, impressionist Rich Little, emceeing the Constitution Ball at the Hilton Washington, did provide a bit of inaugural doggerel.
The gist of it was: "Let's get together, let bitterness pass, I'll hug your elephant, you kiss my ass!" And the crowd went crazy.