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FedPoem: A Ball for 40,000 People

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FedPoem: Our poet-in-residence was amused when the Obama inaugural team announced there would be only two “official” inaugural balls—one for 4,000 honoring the military, and another for 40,000 people—twice as many as can fit in the Verizon Center for a Washington Wizards game. It seemed the White House was trying to have it both ways: projecting frugality by cutting the number of balls from 10 in 2008 while at the same time selling tickets to a vast mass of dancers. The bard reached back in time for inspiration from the great Tommy Tucker, who recorded his enduring hit, “High Heel Sneakers,” in 1963.

The first verse, below, is from that song.


INAUGURAL CRUSH

Put on your red dress, baby
Ya know we're goin' out tonight
Put on your red dress, baby
Lord, we're goin' out tonight
And-a bring along some boxin' gloves
In case some fool might wanna fight

Puttin’ on my ‘rmani suit, baby,
With a finely made white tie
‘Gainst your red dress, baby,
It’s gonna look so fine
And we’ll head down to 9th Street
For the Convention Center jive.

Just forty thousand, baby
Will be joinin’ us tonight,
Such a cozy ball, baby
To toast Obama’s might!
If magnetometers clear us,
We’ll be dancin’ oh so tight.

He’s savin’ dough, sweet baby
With just one big ball tonight,
Down from ten last time, baby,
But I’m wonderin’ if it’s right
To call this thing a ball
When a mob scene is in sight.

Tim Clark served as editor in chief, publisher and president of Government Executive in the years since it was acquired by National Journal Group in 1987. He and his colleagues have built Government Executive into an essential source for federal managers, a shaper of the government management debate and a key player in the good-government movement. Clark has spent his journalistic career studying and writing about government, and is a founder of National Journal, Washington’s premier source of political insight. He also founded Empire State Report, a monthly magazine about government in New York. He is a fellow and former board member of the National Academy of Public Administration.

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