It's hard to imagine an event in a typical civilian's life that would be as painful as watching the person who beat you for the presidency — even though you won nearly 3 million more votes than he did — be sworn into office. Watching your ex get married or your office arch nemesis be promoted is not even remotely close. Still, many are wondering, is Hillary Clinton going to Donald Trump's inauguration? To some people's surprise, her Republican rival will see his challenger in the crowd.
As the wife of a former president, Clinton was undoubtedly on the guest list for the inauguration. Or, sort of. Former first ladies often attend if their former president spouses do. Bill Clinton attended George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001, carrying on the tradition that the outgoing president and first lady attend the passing of the torch to the new one. And in 2009, even after a bitter primary battle against President Obama, both Clintons attended to show their support during Obama's first inauguration (in fact, every living U.S. president made it out to see the first black president officially take the presidency).
Leading up to the inauguration Clinton was largely silent about if she would attend the inauguration, but she will be in attendance after all. Aides to the Clintons confirmed early in January that both the former president and the Democratic presidential nominee would be in attendance.
Before the inauguration, there was a lot of speculation about the guest list for the event, and it wasn't just the Clintons' RSVP that was up in the air. A month before the inauguration, the only living president to say that he was attending, was Jimmy Carter. The one-term president reportedly announced it to his Sunday school class in Georgia, according to Politico.
George W. Bush deferred queries about his inauguration attendance for a while. Shortly before news broke that Hillary Clinton would be attending the inauguration with her husband, his office confirmed that he and former first lady Laura Bush would be attending. However, a spokesperson for his father, George H.W. Bush, said the 41st president and his wife, Barbara, would not attend due to their advanced age, according to a Dallas News report (he is 92, and she is 91).
Although the late responses from the Clintons and the Bushes were, er, trumped up in the media as a snub, it isn't entirely uncommon for former presidents and their wives to skip inaugurations. Both of the Bushes skipped Obama's second inauguration (with H.W. again citing health issues as a concern).
Regardless, it's hard to imagine what it will be like for Clinton to watch Trump take the oath she surely thought she would be taking. Her decision to still go to the inauguration is classy, to say the least.