THE WIDER VIEW SPECIAL: The Inauguration of Barack Obama

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

THE WIDER VIEW SPECIAL: The Inauguration of Barack Obama


Byline: CAROLINE GRAHAM

THE WIDER VIEW SPECIAL: The Inauguration of Barack Obama

WHEN Barack Obama is officially sworn in asAmerica's 44th President on Tuesday, anestimated 1.5billion people around the globeare expected to tune in to watch.

Obama, a huge admirer of Abraham Lincoln, has modelled his own inauguration heavily on that of 'Honest Abe', who led America from 1861 un tilhis assassination in 1865 and is regularly votedthe most popular President ever.

The official theme of Obama 's inauguration is A New Birth Of Freedom, a phrase taken fromLincolns famous Gettysburg Address madeduring the American Civil War.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. As the Washington bumperstickers declare: It's Time To Party Like It's 1861!

Here CAROLINE GRAHAM provides The Mail on Sunday's complete guide to the big day.

THE BUILD-UP

THE Obamas will wake in the bedroom, below, of the President's official guest house, Blair House, which is opposite the White House.

President Bush will remain in the White House until Tuesday morning, when the Obama family will be driven across the road a few hundred yards in a heavily-armoured limousine, above.

Secret Service snipers, trained to hit a target the size of a 50p piece from 1,000 yards, will occupy nearby rooftops.

The family already have their Secret Service nicknames to be used when on the move: Barack is Renegade, Michelle is Renaissance, Malia is Radiance and Sasha is Rosebud.

Laura Bush will show Michelle into the private living quarters and escort Sasha and Malia to their new rooms.

President Bush will make a formal, but token, presentation of the White House keys to his successor. The White House is guarded round the clock but the front door is never locked.

The two families will enjoy a private breakfast together until 10.30am, when they will leave, in separate bulletproof limos, for the 1.7-mile drive along Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol building.

THE SETTING

OBAMA will assume power on a raised wooden dais at the front of a semi-circle of chairs on the west front of the Capitol building. The podium has magnificent views over the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Workers have spent the past week building the stage.

Obama will sit beside Vice-President Elect Joe Biden. Michelle Obama and their two daughters will be in the row behind.

President and Mrs Bush will sit in the front row to the right of the podium.

The other seats will be taken by leaders from both the Democratic and Republican parties, heads of committees, invited dignitaries, members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Pentagon, members of Obama's cabinet, church leaders and, of course, members of the families of both Obama and George Bush.

Obama's British-based stepmother Kezia Obama, 65, who was married to the new President's father Barack Snr, flew to the US on Thursday and has had a traditional Kenyan tribal outfit made for the occasion.

Certain prime seats have been sold by Obama's inauguration committee. For [pounds sterling]6,500 minimum, guests such as Sharon Stone can secure a seat with a view of the swearing-in, two tickets to a candlelit dinner in a private home after the inauguration with a major figure from the new administration, and two tickets to one of the ten official inaugural balls.

For [pounds sterling]35,000, you get two tickets near the front of the VIP seating area, tickets to at least four parties and two tickets to one of the balls where you will have your photograph taken with Obama. The money raised from ticket sales will be used to pay the [pounds sterling]25million cost of the inauguration.

SECURITY

THE Secret Service, in charge of security, has refused to comment publicly on arrangements for the event, but all leave has been cancelled. …

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