Obama Follows Lincoln Chapter and Verse

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Barack Obama announced his historic bid for the presidency from the steps of the statehouse in Springfield, Ill., the same spot where another Illinois state legislator, Abraham Lincoln, began his quest.

Now, to complete the historical symmetry, when Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, he will place his hand on a Bible the 16th president used.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee would not comment last night, but sources close to the process told us the 44th president will use one of two Lincoln Bibles in the Library of Congress.

There are several Bibles that boast a Lincoln pedigree still in existence. A family Bible is at his Kentucky birthplace, and another, famously presented in 1864 to the president by African Americans grateful that the president had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, is in the archives at Fisk University in Nashville.

But Obama gravitated to the two Bibles in the library's collection. The Lincoln family brought one of them from Illinois when they moved to Washington in 1861 -- but because it was packed among the household goods, it wasn't found in time to be used in Lincoln's first inaugural ceremony.

A substitute Bible was quickly provided, and Lincoln repeated the short oath of office given by Chief Justice Roger Taney -- a moment recorded in the back of the book by the clerk of the Supreme Court. The Bible was given to the library in 1928 by the widow of Lincoln's only surviving son, Robert.

Both historic Bibles will be part of the library's celebration of Lincoln's 200th birthday, which kicks off in February.

Inaugural Bigwigs (In Name Only)

Whoo-hoo! The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced the honorary co-chairs yesterday. Barack Obama and Joe Biden handpicked a mix of big political names, supporters and family members to serve: former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Sens. Dick Durbin, Dick Lugar and Claire McCaskill; Reps. Tammy Baldwin, Artur Davis, Ray LaHood and Linda Sánchez; Colin Powell, and D.C.'s own mayor, Adrian Fenty. Even closer to home: Obama's half sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng; brother-in-law, Craig Robinson; and Biden's son and daughter-in-law, Hunter and Kathleen Biden.

So, what exactly does an honorary chair do? Gets his or her name listed on a lot of programs, probably scores an "all-access" pass and . . . um, fields lots of calls begging for tickets to the swearing-in and balls. That should keep them busy!

This Just In

· A restaurant industry group is challenging Jeremy Piven's claim of sushi-induced mercury poisoning as his reason for abruptly leaving Broadway's "Speed-the-Plow." The D.C.-based Center for Consumer Freedom maintained that he would have to eat 3.4 pounds of tuna -- or 108 pieces of tuna sushi roll -- a week for life before suffering ill effects of mercury.

· Samantha Ronson, the DJ and Lindsay Lohan g-friend, was briefly hospitalized this weekend in L.A. because, she explained on her MySpace page, "I was just pretty exhausted from traveling and working too much . . . and my Jewish mother was worried about me." Insurance covers that?

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

. . . Donovan McNabb at Georgia Brown's on Saturday night. The Eagles QB ( jacket, no tie) brought mom Wilma (star of the Campbell's soup commercials, wearing a full-length fur) and two pals in for catfish fingers, deviled shrimp, corn chowder and fried chicken. The party of four was in a good spirits -- of course, that was before Sunday's loss to the Redskins.


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