When the freshman class of the U.S. House of Representatives was being sworn in on Jan. 5, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed her successor, incoming Speaker John Boehner, in a handing-over-the-gavel ceremony. In Sen. Mary Landrieu's office, a different sort of ceremony was taking place, as Landrieu welcomed new Rep. Cedric Richmond to Washington, D.C., with a king cake.
The veteran senator and the newbie representative got the jump on Carnival's official kickoff by one day. Twelfth Night, the first day of Carnival season, is on Jan. 6. Perhaps more significant was the politicians' blithe attitude toward the Marie Antoinette-ish symbolism of the powerful eating cake. "Here's a bit of king cake for bipartisanship and recovery," Landrieu was quoted as saying in a statement. She and Richmond are the only two Democrats in Louisiana's congressional delegation. — Kevin Allman