Members embrace the day's pageantry

Lawmakers, Supreme Court justices, former presidents, spouses and celebrities set aside their rhetorical arrows Monday and reveled in the quadrennial spectacle that is the presidential inauguration.

In and around the Capitol, the nation’s political elite were by turns hobnobbing with one another and — like any out-of-town tourist — snapping cellphone photos of the historic moment.

“This is history,” a onetime and perhaps future presidential wannabe, Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannPawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota US ambassador repeated debunked claim that Abedin has 'egregious' ties to Muslim Brotherhood Bachmann considering running for Franken's seat MORE (R-Minn.), said to her colleagues as she took an iPhone photo of members of Congress waiting to proceed out of the Capitol to their seats.

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Atop the platform on the west front of the Capitol, members of Congress craned to get a view both of President Obama taking the oath for a second term and of Beyoncé belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner.” One of the president’s top critics, House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ If we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-Va.), even tweeted out a photo of the president delivering his address.

(Cantor, or his staff, had more success than another Twitter aficionado, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Five hurdles to a big DACA and border deal Grand jury indicts Maryland executive in Uranium One deal: report MORE (R-Iowa), who sent out a series of real-time tweets more than three hours after Obama finished speaking.)

As they waited to file out to their seats, Cabinet secretaries mingled with members of the Supreme Court.

Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryFeehery: Oprah Dem presidential bid unlikely Dem hopefuls flock to Iowa Change in Iran will only come from its people — not the United States MORE (D-Mass.), the nominee to take over Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIntel Dem decries White House 'gag order' after Bannon testimony 'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Mellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) MORE’s job as secretary of State, arrived with the Cabinet officials, walking closely behind Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.


The Supreme Court justices, bundled in winter overcoats, filed through the doors closely behind the Cabinet officials, with a laughing and joking Clarence Thomas, who is known for his mostly quiet demeanor during the court’s oral arguments.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had a more pressing concern. “Is there a bathroom near?” Napolitano asked, to no one in particular, as she entered the Capitol.

At the traditional inaugural lunch in Statuary Hall, the odd-couple pairings were too many to count.

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonTrump’s first year in office was the year of the woman Can a president be impeached for non-criminal conduct? Dems search for winning playbook MORE surveyed the room and kibitzed with his designated seatmate, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), the third-ranking Republican.

Earlier, both Bill and Hillary Clinton chatted up two conservative stalwarts: Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnRepublicans in Congress shouldn't try to bring back earmarks Republicans should know reviving earmarks is a political nightmare Former GOP senator: Trump has a personality disorder MORE (R-Okla.) and Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown Lawmakers see shutdown’s odds rising Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year MORE (R-Wis.), the House budget chief, who would have taken the oath as vice president on Monday if the November election had turned out differently.

Given a prime upfront table, the Clintons were seated with Chief Justice John Roberts and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and across the table from Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewOvernight Finance: Hatch announces retirement from Senate | What you can expect from new tax code | Five ways finance laws could change in 2018 | Peter Thiel bets big on bitcoin Ex-Obama Treasury secretary: Tax cuts 'leaving us broke' Senator demands answers from DOJ on Russia bribery probe MORE, Obama’s chief of staff and nominee for Treasury secretary.

“Today is a great day for talking to people,” said Lew, who needs to win support for his confirmation in the Senate.

Across the aisle, former President Jimmy Carter sat at the same table as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who had removed a widely-remarked-on hat that he wore outside, which appeared to have been taken straight out of a Shakespeare play.

The political star wattage was such that it took Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan several minutes to find someone to talk to as she waited to sit down for a lunch of bison and lobster. 

Many celebrities, governors and members of Congress didn’t score an invite to the exclusive gathering. 

Singer John Legend and a guest wandered into the lunch even though they didn’t have seats. They chatted with guests and took pictures, and they even appeared to wait to be introduced to Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who was clad in a ketchup-red pantsuit befitting her fortune.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) found herself seated at the same table as her onetime inquisitor, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the former chairman of the House Ethics Committee, which investigated Waters. “I just said, ‘Remember me?’ ” Waters told reporters after the lunch.

If there was a star of the show other than Obama, it was the master of ceremonies, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration White House: Trump remarks didn't derail shutdown talks Schumer defends Durbin after GOP senator questions account of Trump meeting MORE (D-N.Y.), who seemed to relish his every moment at the microphone and took every opportunity to trumpet the inaugural contributions from his home state of New York.

Perhaps the day’s most amusing unscripted moment came when Vice President Biden was offering a toast to “a man who never, never, never operates out of fear, only operates out of confidence.” Thinking the honoree was Obama, Schumer raised his glass before Biden stopped him. “I’m toasting you, Chuck,” he said, as the room erupted in laughter.

“The best parts of these events are unscripted,” Schumer said when he stepped back to the podium, drawing more laughter from the crowd.

Rank-and-file lawmakers at the lunch were relegated to what Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFlake's anti-Trump speech will make a lot of noise, but not much sense Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018 MORE (R-Ohio) quipped was the “kids’ table.”

“The lunch is a rare moment of unity, and everybody was on good behavior and spoke about the promise of working together for the next four years,” Portman said. “It’s a refreshing change from the normal Washington meetings.”

The theme of unity was a common one on Monday, even as leaders acknowledged that the bipartisan bonhomie would likely be short-lived.

“It’s always a new beginning every time we’re in this room,” Biden told the assembled luminaries at the lunch. “And there’s a sense of possibilities and a sense of opportunity and a sense — sometimes it’s fleeting — but a sense that maybe we can really begin to work together.”

Exactly how fleeting should be known soon: the House and Senate return to work on Tuesday, when Obama’s second term will begin in earnest.

— Molly K. Hooper, Erik Wasson, Jordy Yager, Jeremy Herb and Alexandra Jaffe contributed to this report.