George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, even Oprah Winfrey—the famous people who didn't attend Barack Obama's second inauguration say as much about the ceremony as those who did turn up. The no-shows offered many different excuses for staying home—some legitimate, some paper-thin. And some of these no-shows hurt more than others. As Washington's presidential party carries on into the afternoon, let's take a look at the people who aren't celebrating Obama's second term in D.C., assessing their alibis and the severity of their snubs.
George W. Bush
Excuse: George H.W. Bush just got out of the hospital last week after battling a persistent fever and sent his best wishes from home. While Dubya hasn't officially cited his father's illness as his reason for not showing, it's widely considered to be his alibi.
Snub severity: An ailing father is a pretty good reason for staying home, but the younger Bush's absence is nevertheless deeply felt. It means that no former Republican president were at the inauguration. Only Presidents Clinton and Carter were there to witness Obama taking his second oath of office, making this an ideologically lopsided affair.
Excuse: He doesn't really have one, but he stayed in California. Sure, he's back on the board at Marriott—but it's a holiday, so claiming to be preoccupied with work is a pretty thin pretext for bailing on the inauguration. Maybe he's too busy running errands at Costco or filling up at the gas station?
Snub severity: Pretty severe. This is the fist time a major party losing candidate hasn't attended the inauguration since 1989, when Michael Dukakis skipped George H.W. Bush's ceremony. Let's just hope Mitt also has the decency to write a congratulatory telegram while enjoying that tuna sandwich, also known as the Sore Loser Special.
Excuse: The woman who drew out Lance Armstrong's doping confession can't come to Obama's party because she's in the middle of a speaking tour. Her appearance tonight in Edmonton, Canada, was apparently more important to her than attending the inauguration again.
Snub severity: Oprah's nonattendance stings worse than any Republican's cold shoulder. She was Obama's biggest celebrity backer when he first ran for President. She even told voters "he is the one." But Winfrey was noticeably M.I.A. throughout Obama's reelection efforts, and her no-show today only raises suspicions about the state of her friendship with the Obamas. But one Oprah employee half-heartedly reassures The Washington Post that she hasn't had a falling out with the First Family: "She may feel as a network owner that she shouldn’t be picking sides."
Excuse: Like Oprah, Clooney was another high-profile shill and fundraiseer for Obama on the 2008 campaign trail. But the leading man couldn't make today's inauguration because he's traveling outside the country, according to a Clooney representative.
Snub severity: Compared with the snubs from Bush, Romney, and Winfrey, Clooney's absence doesn't leave much of a mark. But without Clooney's dapper visage in attendance, cameramen looking to snap shots of Hollywood pretty boys have had to fix their lenses on John Mayer, which is just gross.
Miss America's close call
Excuse: We can all stop freaking out over Miss America's absence. At the last minute, Mallory Hagan decided to brave the cold and grace the President's second inauguration with her pageantry-perfected presence. For a while, she had considered ditching the event because it's just so chilly in D.C. these days. But apparently she found some ear-muffs and a warm jacket. So, crisis averted.
Snub severity: Let's not even begin to contemplate how devastating Hagan's absence would've been. As everyone knows, U.S. Presidents are not constitutionally sanctioned to lead the country until they receive an official blessing from the nation's highest beauty queen.
Inset photo: @missamericaorg via Instagram
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.