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Abortion Foes Protest At Parade

Tue., Jan. 21, 1997

Against a backdrop of flag-waving crowds at the inaugural parade, abortion opponents held 6-foot-tall photos of aborted fetuses and planted crosses under the banner “Children of Hillary’s Village.”

“We’re here because Bill Clinton is the abortion president,” said Tim Murphy, assistant director of Chicago-based Pro-life Action League.

The two dozen posters were within view of President Clinton as his limousine passed by, at the beginning of the parade a few blocks from the Capitol.

Many pedestrians looked away or covered their children’s eyes as they passed by.

More than $1 million a word

The oath that Bill Clinton took to begin his second term as president was 35 words. His inauguration cost roughly $44 million. Do the math. It comes out to more than $1 million a word.

Of course, for the $31 million in private contributions and another $12.7 million in taxpayer money, the Republic - and particularly the approximately quarter-million members of the Republic who took part - got something else: The majesty of democracy. A parade. And 814 porta-potties.

Spending on inaugurations is sensitive stuff. No presidents want to look extravagant. Nor, however, do they want to slight supporters, leave any disappointed, or squander an opportunity to soak up the nation’s hard-earned and fickle attention.

Lebed gets lesson in pageantry

Alexander Lebed, once and future presidential contender in Russia, attended the inauguration ceremony as the guest of Republican Sen. William Roth of Delaware.

“I am going to learn how to correctly organize an inauguration,” the blunt-spoken retired general quipped to reporters.

Fashion police find little to sniff at

Her hairstyles have drawn laughs. Her health care plan drew fire. But for Monday, at least, Hillary Rodham Clinton was beyond reproach. In a tailored, coral-color suit and melton coat by designer Oscar de la Renta and coordinating taupe suede shoes, purse and gloves, the resolutely unfashionable first lady looked not just fashionable but, experts agree, fabulous.

Her husband, who wore a navy suit and navy-and-red dotted tie Monday, has turned into a moving billboard for Donna Karan, whose sleek-but-roomy tailoring works for his ample frame. Compared with former President Bush, who favored conservative J. Press suits, and former President Reagan, who bought his browns and plaids at the same Beverly Hills shop George Burns did, “Clinton may be the best-dressed president we ever had,” said New York fashion editor Alan Millstein.

If there was any criticism Monday, it was for the first daughter, Chelsea. While her coordinated ice-blue suit and coat won plaudits, some experts thought her skirt a little too short for a 16-year-old.

‘America the Beautiful’

The day’s symbolism seemed blessed by special effects from above. The sun started to come out moments before the president spoke.

It illuminated opera star Jessye Norman, whose “America” evoked Marian Anderson’s legendary performance at the Lincoln Memorial in 1941, after the Daughters of the American Revolution would not let the black soprano sing at Constitution Hall.

As Norman moved into a stately rendition of “Amazing Grace,” the crowd was bathed in sunlight. The warmth woke up people’s vocal cords, and thousands were soon joining her, spontaneously, in the chorus of “America the Beautiful.”

“I love it! I love it! All the sarcasm, the cynicism seems gone,” said Kathleen Parke, a Democratic volunteer from New Orleans.

Greetings from beyond

On Sunday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton was at a party where she ran into author Bob Woodward for the first time since he wrote that the first lady held imaginary chats with Eleanor Roosevelt. With a dazzling smile, Clinton looked Woodward in the eye and declared, “Next time I talk to Eleanor, I’ll tell her you said hello.”

“It was a clean hit,” an amused Woodward conceded. He had no snappy comeback. “I had no comeback at all.”

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