You cannot have a Kentucky ball without great bourbon — and perhaps, a moving invocation.
With all due respect to Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and House members from Kentucky of both parties, the highlight of Saturday evening's Kentucky Bluegrass Ball at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel was the selection of bourbons, with seven different stands set up by distillers with about 20 different varieties being offered during a reception before the beginning of the formal festivities.
While we at HOH might have personal favorites, Kentucky politicians knew better than to engage on that question.
"Kentucky bourbon is one of our signature industries, and as an industry, it has taken off over the last three or four years. It is known worldwide, and I've helped to promote it, and the Bourbon Trail as a tourist attraction has grown by leaps and bounds," Beshear told HOH. "I always say, and tell any audience I speak to, that 95 percent of the world's bourbon is made right in Kentucky. The other 5 percent is counterfeit."
Neither Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell nor his junior GOP counterpart Rand Paul were in attendance at the Bluegrass Ball, but actress Ashley Judd did appear. She's mulling a run against McConnell in 2014.
The Senate was well-represented nonetheless. Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black offered the evening's invocation.
It's one of five inaugural events at which he plans to participate as a chaplain. Black is known to Senate observers for his booming voice in offering the chamber's daily prayer, often including references or allusions to the business of the day, particularly when Congress is on the verge of going past one of the seemingly ever-present fiscal deadlines.
"Bless our president. Inspire him to look to you for wisdom, knowledge and courage in these challenging times," Black said.
Black is never one to short-change in preparing the prayer for an event — large or small. He told HOH that each inaugural prayer will cater to the audience receiving the message.
"Each one is tailor-made. Nothing off the rack." Black said. "This is Kentucky bluegrass. You need to talk about, you know, the nature of this venue."
"I just think it's great to celebrate a re-election," he said. "I'm sure that not everyone voted for the president, but this is an amazing country in that once a decision is made, we pull together, and that's what this represents."
Black, who has been the Senate's chaplain for about a decade, is a retired Navy rear admiral. He said he has no plans to leave the Senate.
"It's an open-ended appointment, and I love what I do. So, you know, as long as my health holds up and my wife doesn't leave me, I should hang in there," Black said.