WASHINGTON — The presidential inaugural committee has settled on its final list of celebrities and entertainers coming to Washington this week to participate in festivities associated with President Bush’s swearing-in for a second term.
Among those taking leading roles in the two days of events are former “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer, former Nixon staffer cum actor-comedian-gameshow host Ben Stein, teen idol Hilary Duff, country singer Kenny Chesney and boxing promoter Don King.
Theme of the inaugural festivities is “Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service.” Others scheduled to attend include Cuban-born singer Gloria Estefan, soul singer Bebe Winans, old-school R&B stars the Temptations, country crooners the Gatlin Brothers, actor Richard Roundtree, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.
Rock’s rough image
Kid Rock, who supported the president’s re-election and had first twins Barbara and Jenna Bush and other young conservatives kicking out the jams during his performance at the Republican National Convention last summer, will be absent from the festivities.
When rumors recently surfaced that the Detroit rock-rapper with the less-than-wholesome image might be joining the ranks of entertainers at an inaugural youth concert Barbara was organizing, the president’s staunchly conservative supporters objected, forcing the inaugural committee to issue a statement saying that the Kid “was never booked.”
The youth concert will be headlined by Duff with an assist from pop star JoJo and “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard as well as the rock groups 3 Doors Down and Boxkar. Guests at the Black Tie & Boots Ball — a private affair underwritten by the president’s fellow Texans — will be swinging to the tunes of Lyle Lovett and Asleep at the Wheel. The nine public balls will be entertained by the Tommy Dorsey and Guy Lombardo orchestras, among others.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not on the guest list — yet.
Modest main event
Unlike previous inaugurals that have featured glitter and glamour, such as those of Ronald Reagan, the 55th presidential inauguration seems a more modest affair, due in part to the nation’s being at war and facing a record budget deficit.
Still, Bush’s second inaugural conforms to a long-established political pattern. “Inaugurals are a combination of rewarding your friends and supporters and creating symbols and building constituencies that might serve your interests in governing over the next four years,” said Thomas Mann, presidential scholar and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “I see no surprises on this guest list.”