OUT OF AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION…. There was widespread agreement that Chief Justice John Roberts’ flub of the presidential oath of office was insignificant, but there was also widespread agreement that, just to be on the safe side, Roberts and Barack Obama should probably get together and give this another try.
Last night at the White House, they did just that — and got it right this time.
For their do-over, the two men convened in the White House Map Room at 7:35 p.m. for a brief proceeding that was not announced until it was completed successfully.
“Are you ready to take the oath?” Chief Justice Roberts said.
“I am,” Mr. Obama replied. “And we’re going to do it very slowly.”
After a day’s worth of chatter over whether the president had been properly sworn into office — he transposed a couple of words in the oath after being incorrectly prompted by the chief justice — advisers to Mr. Obama decided Wednesday afternoon to try it one more time.
Only hours after aides told reporters there was no reason to administer the oath again, they concluded it was easier to do it on the first day, rather than have someone challenge the legitimacy of his presidency.
Apparently, as Roberts prepared for the do-over, Obama joked, “We decided it was so much fun….”
There were nine witnesses for last night’s second swearing in — four aides, four reporters and a White House photographer. White House Counsel Gregory Craig explained, “We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself, and out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time.”
Once the now-flawless recitation of the oath was complete, Obama turned to the small group of reporters in the room and said, “The bad news for the pool is there’s 12 more balls.”
Post Script: Just for the record, Obama really was president after the first oath, and everything he did yesterday was legit. In 1789, George Washington was president for seven weeks before he’d taken the oath, but he still had all the authority of the office.