ABOUT THAT OATH…. The presidential oath of office is quite straightforward, and only 35 words long: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Somehow, Chief Justice John Roberts, with the whole world watching, managed to flub it.
As you can see in the video, Roberts initially made the first sentence too long. It should have been “I, Barack Hussein Obama,” and then wait for the response. In fact, Obama started to respond at the right time, but Roberts kept going, adding, “do solemnly swear.” Obama recovered and corrected it. No biggie.
But then Roberts, who had allegedly practiced this, rearranged the words of the oath, saying, “that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” That’s wrong in two places — the “to” and the placement of “faithfully.” Obama stopped, realizing Roberts had misspoken, before saying “that I will execute … the office of president of the United States faithfully.” That’s not what the oath says, but that’s what Roberts told Obama to say.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said, “John Roberts had one job to do today and he sort of screwed up.” True. Roberts, I noticed, wasn’t reading from a prepared text, apparently confident that he could just memorize the 35 words. Note to the Chief Justice: four years from today, bring notes.
Josh Marshall added that some “nutballs” who’d hoped to prevent the inauguration, claiming that Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen, “may get a second lease on life by claiming he didn’t take the oath correctly.”
Count on it. A reader told me a few minutes ago that Fox News’ Chris Wallace speculated on the air about whether Obama is really president, since the oath didn’t go as it should have.
I’m not an expert, but my understanding is that at noon today, by law, Barack Obama became president. The oath was a formality. Wingnuts and their lawyers really shouldn’t bother rushing to court to challenge this, though I suspect they’ll give it a try anyway.