It's your party and we'll leave if we want to

Published January 17, 2005 5:24PM (EST)

Plenty of Democrats in Washington are singing a wistful tune this week, as the nation's capital goes into lockdown to party it up for Bush's reinauguration.

"There was no way I was going to be in town," Stephanie Cutter, the former communications director for John Kerry's presidential campaign, tells the New York Times. Cutter is headed to South Beach in Miami, while John Podesta, President Clinton's former chief of staff, will sit it out at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Others are fleeing the country altogether.

"'This does not seem like a hospitable place for Democrats this week,' said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project, a nonprofit group that studies constitutional issues, who is heading to a spa in Belize. 'Obviously, as an ardent Democrat, I was very disappointed by the election results, and in the past, I've gone to counterinaugurals at friends' houses. But this year, there was just so much emotion behind this election, it seemed like a good time to get out of town.'"

Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle checks the pulse in the nation's capital of political protest. Trying to stir up a little fun, the paper's Sylvia Rubin asked a few Bay Area designers "to sketch their ideas" for inaugural evening gowns for Laura Bush, the Bush twins and Condi Rice. The responses were aesthetically mixed.

"The first twins will wear slinky emerald green and aquamarine blue, but local designer Catherine Jane thinks they'd look 'flirtatious' in red lace and red floral gowns," writes Rubin. "But the election results left such bad feelings for Berkeley-based designer Erica Tanov (who has boutiques in Berkeley, New York and Los Angeles) and Dema Grim of the Mission District boutique Dema, that they declined to participate in our fantasy feature.

"'I'd put them all in burlap and ashes,' Grim said."

Yet if this report by Shelby Hodge of the Houston Chronicle is any indication, they've all got it wrong. Under the banner of "Joys of W.'s capital gains," Hodge has some skinny on style for the Bush extravaganza, which will welcome to town prominent Texans like John Walker, the CEO of EnerVest and president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Walker is a major underwriter of the "Black Tie & Boots Ball" hosted by the Texas State Society.

"Houstonians on the inaugural wagon train are headin' up and movin' out for the nation's capital today and Tuesday," notes Hodge. "They've packed their manly footwear and dress Stetsons, their sparkly designer gowns and their furs. It's party time in D.C."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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