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Latino Stars, Pols Gather for Their First Inaugural Ball

By Ed O'Keefe
UNION STATION -- More than 4,000 people packed the lobby of Washington's main train station Sunday night and most seemed interested in seeing Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez and President-elect Barack Obama.

Well, two out of three ain't bad.

The Latin power couple hit the red carpet at exactly 8 p.m. ET, fielding softballs from entertainment reporters before slipping away to the VIP room. The duo's security posse did its best to keep gawkers away, even shoving aside "American Idol" runner-up David Archuleta and "70's Show" star Wilmer Valderrama to make way. Actor Edward James Olmos and "Ugly Betty" TV father Tony Plana also fielded questions from a mostly Spanish-language press, eager to hear what they think of the new president. Most professed pride, but also seemed to acknowledge the Obama administration could use a few more Latinos.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who declined offers from a "gracious" Obama to join his administration, explained that his decision was more about saying "Yes to Congress more [than it was about saying 'no'] to anyone or anything," noting he plans to yield plenty of influence as the fifth most powerful House Democrat. Obama "tried" to include Latinos in his cabinet, Becerra said, but fell at least one short of his goal with the quick departure of Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.).

"They're still doing it," Becerra said of Obama's staffing efforts, noting there are several assistant and deputy secretary positions to fill.

"That's where you need a farm team, in order to have those folks move up in the future."

Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) (donning cowboy hat and bolo tie) and Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), two Latinos joining the administration as Interior and Labor secretaries, respectively, also joined the crowd, taking few questions from reporters and generating nowhere near the excitement as celebrities and singers in attendance (except for a few Beltway types eager for face time). Obama Spanish media spokesman Federico De Jesus was among the other transition/administration officials in attendance.

Other attendees included actresses Rosie Perez and Rosario Dawson, New York Gov. David Paterson (D), Fox News anchor Geraldo Rivera, CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Univision news anchor Maria Elena Salinas (whose "Noticiero Univision" evening news broadcast often beats Katie Couric, Charles Gibson and Brian Williams, or some combination thereof in New York City, Miami and other cities with large Latino audiences.)

Master of Ceremonies George Lopez began the evening's musical performances roughly one hour after their scheduled start (in classic "Latino time" fashion as some attendees said). Musical acts War, Mariachi Los Camperos and Paulina Rubio warmed up the crowd ahead of performances by Marc Anthony and Alejandro Sanz (who performed well after this reporter went home to rest up for the remainder of the week!).

By Paul Volpe  |  January 19, 2009; 1:03 PM ET
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Next: Biden's Decades Old Plagiarism Chapter Closes With Inauguration



Barack Obama is the greatest liar in history (no wonder he is an excellent lawyer!) During his campaign, he told lots of hope in future for America if he was elected, but now he warns Americans of oncoming darker economy and not to put too much hope in his promises. He promises a big plan to reduce budget deficit but his inauguration ceremony this January will be the most costly in history (50 millions) while the nation is in deep depression, as well as his presidential campaign (600 millions), which was far more than his opponent John McCain's. He swears to clean up Washington DC, but he failed to first clean up his homestate Illinois, one of the most corrupt state with the scandal of Governor Rod Blagojevich, who greatly helped Obama to win his state senate seat in 1996, 1998, and 2002. And his favorite slogan is "Yes, we CAN", yet he himself CANNOT quit smoking at all !!!

Posted by: TIMNGUYEN1 | January 19, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I didn't see the name of this inaugural ball in this article, did I miss something? Next time can you get a reporter who can stay for the whole event? Thanks!

Posted by: ZebraLover | January 19, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

TIMNGUYEN1 you're an idiot. The economy has been changing fluidly since the election victory, so to adjusting or tempering what can or needs to be done is simply the can stay the course of an election platform when banks and financial institutions are failing (notably under the GOP administration you probably favor) for the inauguration costs, I suppose that's the price to be paid WHEN IT WILL BE THE BIGGEST SWEARING IN IN THE COURSE OF AMERICAN HISTORY...or would you prefer no crowd control, no washrooms, no information booths?! ooooh...evil, evil smoker!!! He should never be president because of that......

Posted by: tony30 | January 19, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Tim Nguyen - Try not to be so cynical. While our new president is not perfect, he needs our support. This country is in terrible straits. If President Obama fails, our country fails. And millions of Americans will face even more dire circumstances. I'm a former infantryman, wounded in Vietnam, and I saw how cynicism can wreck a country's soul. We can't let it happen again. The stakes are too high.

Posted by: james441 | January 19, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

It is so familiar to us to find something wrong rather than find something right. It is so familiar because of our concern that things won't work out because we have a tendency to look at the awful thing that could happen rather than the wonderful thing that could happen. Extend love, extend care, extend the benefit of the doubt. Suspend your familiar belief in bad and take a risk and imagine something wonderful...Thank you for the honor it is to be able to submit this response. Carolyn Shawgo

Posted by: carolynshawgo | January 19, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Well, I was there the whole evening. There was no mistaking that it was the 2009 Latino Inaugural Gala (though I don't think in good conscience that it could be considered a "ball"). Plenty of appetizers; a decent cash bar with a drink known as a "Latini"; decadent cookies (and the good sense to provide access to both regular and decaffeinated coffee). George Lopez was his usual amusing self. Senator Ken Salazar really wears those ten-gallon hats...Secretary of Labor in waiting Hilda Solis was very warmly greeted by the crowd. JLo and Marc Antony would have been mobbed if they had joined the "masses"--as it's been commented that Oprah has merely "run through" similar events. She sweetly introduced him as "my husband." The only real problem: getting a taxi at the end of the event. In true "Latino" fashion, the party both started--and ended--late. Too late for the Metro...and the dozens of taxis that normally dot the front of Union Station were ??? There was not only the tired post-party crowd; but also, people continuing to pour forth from the trains. It was catch as catch can: hijackings, someone referred to what was going on. A flustered cabbie finally carted myself (a cubana); a puerotorriquena; and a mexicana away. Thank you, sir, for assisting our movable OAS. And, Tim: don't berate Obama. Pray for him, and for our country.

Posted by: maggib | January 19, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

TIMNGUYEN1 - If America, not just President Obama, is to be successful it will take all of us working together to rebuild our country. Quit being such a critical cynic and ask what you can do to help make things better.

Posted by: ohreallynow1 | January 19, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Tim Nguyen-I have one thing to say to critics like you. Please don't just sit around and be a taker from the government, I am sure you are a man of age. Do something run for government and serve--we have too many complainers and not enough doers, be a man like Barack or even Bush, at least try and if you don't. Just leave the country you name sounds funny anyway.

Hah !!!

Posted by: wanda_jones | January 19, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

TimNguyen1 It would be nice if you or your relative at least try to serve you this country. Don't just stay in America and bilk it for financial gain, and complain about our true Americans that do serve with all sincerity. Do something since it appears you are a man and of legal age, are do you just want to sit around and wine about the true men that have the guts to actually do and not just sit around and complain like the weak men. Running for president is everyman's right, so put up or shut up.

Posted by: wanda_jones | January 19, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post could not find a reporter that would stay for the entire event...really?

Posted by: terp4um | January 19, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

While we're talking about Latinos, President Obama could go a long way toward the continued empowerment of Hispanics in high positions by appointing a Latino (or Latina), preferably VERY young, to the next vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Then MAYBE it would start to look a little more like the USA. Leave it to Puppet Bush to have the audacity to lower the number of women on the high court fron 2 to 1 (since the radical right seems to hate/fear thinking women). Pres. Obama could rectify this with a Latina appointment. There are many qualified candidates from which to choose!

Posted by: NMguy1 | January 21, 2009 2:53 AM | Report abuse

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