Sunday 23 November 2014

US DIARY ORLA HEALY

Published 27/01/2013 | 05:00

Anyone surprised by the ease with which President Obama took off both gloves during Monday's inauguration address should have seen the shapes he was throwing in the East Room later that night when the First Couple welcomed more than 200 of their friends, celebrity supporters and political colleagues to cut loose during an informal dessert buffet after-party.

Guests including (aspiring senator) Ashley Judd, Kelly Clarkson, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, James Taylor, Katy Perry and John Mayer watched alongside the likes of Rahm Emanuel, Susan Rice, Leon Panetta, Colin Powell and Al Sharpton as the Prez ditched his tux jacket to (unsuccessfully) take on Usher (who reportedly threw down some killer Michael Jackson moves) in a Gangnam-Style dance-off.

Mrs Obama led a strong female contingent, including daughters Malia and Sasha, onto the dance-floor for her favourite, Single Ladies, but Beyonce, who caused a flap by allegedly lip-synching the national anthem that morning (apparently she was too busy to put in the practice time with the Marine Corps Band) also failed to show at the party (apparently she was too busy trying to get out of DC and into New Orleans for Super Bowl rehearsals.) Ms B, however, wasn't the only red-faced celeb of the night.

Bill Clinton (Hillary, wisely it turned out, went straight home to bed), Timothy Geithner and incoming Secretary of State John Kerry have been named and shamed as the only three hold-outs who refused to do the electric slide or follow when the Prez led the entire party in a giddy conga line through the formal reception rooms in the East Wing to Love Train.

While the White House got all huffy when asked what hour the Prez eventually called time on the party, tweets from John Legend and his girlfriend Chrissy Teigen suggest it was late. "2.30am at the White House. It's a celebration!" Legend tweeted from, natch, the social-media-free signed zone. Later, Teigen posted her own thoughts: "I don't even know what to say. It's 3.15am and I just teared up seeing our president getting down at the white house."

Figuring out smoke signals

Trust House Speaker John Boehner to shoot down the scuttlebutt behind one of the most intriguing internet moments of inauguration day.

At issue is a series of snapshots, that quickly morphed into a hilarious GIF, showing Michelle Obama seated between her husband and his perma-tanned Republican nemesis at lunch, disapprovingly rolling her eyes and shaking her head at whatever was prompting the two men to smirk like schoolboys.

In a valiant attempt to solve the mystery, the geniuses at CBS News brought in lip-reading expert Larry Wenig to crack the code. According to Wenig, the chain-smoking Boehner had asked the prez if he'd had a chance to sneak a smoke before lunch.

The Prez, who claims he quit cigarettes three years ago at the behest of his wife, didn't answer prompting Boehner to tease: "Somebody [Michelle] won't let you do it," which, of course, is supposedly the line that elicited the First Lady's less than delighted response.

On Thursday, Boehner responded to the report with an email statement insisting: "This is not true."

Then again, unless he wants Michelle Obama all over him, he kind of has to say that, doesn't he?

Rubberneck Clinton, again

BILL Clinton provided the other viral meme of the day when he unintentionally photo-bombed singer Kelly Clarkson as she took to the podium to perform My Country, 'Tis of Thee minutes after Obama took the oath of office.

Clinton, who was seated a few rows behind the main action, poked his head out through the aisle to get a better view of the American Idol winner as she started to sing – an image captured and posted to Twitter by Brooklyn photographer Doug Gordon.

Clarkson, who tweeted a link to a photo of herself shaking President Obama's hand boasted the picture was "maybe the coolest photo I've ever been in". Little did she know what had been going on behind her back.

Hillary braced for next battle

In her final major appearance as secretary of state, a defiant Hillary Clinton, wearing an emerald green suit and geek girl glasses, proved that women in Washington are ready for combat in more ways than one. Following her six-hour grilling from the finger-wagging suits on the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees, Mrs Clinton exits public life with the highest approval ratings of her political career (67 per cent of all Americans, and 91 per cent of Democrats approve of her, according to a new poll) and, equally important to those who want to see her run for office in 2016, completely debt-free.

According to reports filed by Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign last week, she has managed to retire her $25m (€18.5m) debt and currently enjoys a surplus of $204,832. Former President Bill Clinton is being credited with helping to raise more than $233,000 over the last three months of 2012. Of that, $62,000 came from selling Hillary's campaign list to Obama for America.

Romney just chillin' by pool

Mitt Romney is obviously finding moving on hard to do. The former Massachusetts governor who spent inauguration day poolside at his home in La Jolla, California earned himself the dubious honour of becoming the first losing presidential candidate not to attend his opponent's swearing-in since Michael Dukakis passed on the invite in 1989.

Romney aides said it's "doubtful" their boss tuned into the box. And just in case anybody starts thinking of Romney as a sore loser, his son Tagg recently revealed that his dad was never really into the gig.

"He wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life," Tagg told the Boston Globe. "He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them ... he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn't love the attention." No worries, dude, on that score.

Sunday Independent

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