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Posted by: Dan Beucke on January 17
By Keith Epstein
Inaugural festivities got underway in a frigid Washington Saturday morning with a Boeing-sponsored brunch for scores of lobbyists and pols to celebrate the unveiling of an Obama portrait donated to the Smithsonian by Washington power lobbyist couple Tony and Heather Podesta.
Boeing CFO James A. Bell said that he felt particularly moved by the event and Obama’s ascension. Bell, an African American who grew up in south central L.A., called it “a wonderful moment that sends a powerful message.” He noted that the portrait, which figured prominently in campaign material and has the word “HOPE” at the bottom, conveyed “a simple message of hope that elegantly captured the aspirations of so many Americans.”
Bell noted that Boeing's motto "other people dream, we do" seemed particularly apt as inaugural festivities got under way. "As gratifying as it is to be an executive," Bell said, "it's more gratifying as a black man who grew up in south central LA and has achieved so much...to witness this historic event." He called it "a testament to what we can achieve in America."
In attendance at the brunch, in the atrium of the National Portrait Gallery - third oldest building in DC, and where the Shepard Fairey portrait of Obama finds a place with other presidential likenesses - were members of Congress, lobbyists for clients such as private space contractors, private equity firms, green businesses bureacrats, and artists, who buzzed about opportunity for change - and business - in the new regime.
The portrait's creator, Fairey, said: "Mainstream politics was something I'd lost faith in. Obama restored my faith."
Washington Bureau Chief Jane Sasseen and other BusinessWeek writers cover the run-up to the Nov. 4 presidential election, paying close attention to how the candidates will handle issues such as housing, the economy, unemployment, and immigration.