Bringing the party to the people

By KARA BASKIN  |  January 19, 2009

But perhaps the saddest story of all belongs to RUTHERFORD B. HAYES, whose election was in dispute until just days before the inauguration, so nobody had time to plan a ball for him. Why couldn't this have happened to George W. Bush?

Breaking with tradition
Wimpy Pierce refused to "swear" on a Bible, instead using the word "affirm." THEODORE ROOSEVELT, always his own man, didn't use a Bible at all. (He also wore a ring with a lock of Lincoln's hair from the day he was shot. Don't ask.) Eisenhower went for the Eminem approach and opted to recite his own improvised prayer instead of kissing the Bible, as tradition dictates. Portly WILLIAM H. TAFT was the first president to ride with his wife from the Capitol to the White House, though one wonders how there was room for her. (Later in the evening, someone stepped on Mrs. Taft's train during the inaugural procession, causing a major traffic jam.) And finally, Carter broke with ritual and instead referred to inaugural balls as "parties." The guy "who's looked on a lot of women with lust" can't even say "balls?" How did he get to be POTUS?

Kara Baskin can be reached at kbaskin@phx.com.

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