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VP Joe Biden holds opening gaffe until afternoon of Day One

January 22, 2009 |  1:46 am

Democratic President Barack Obama and his vice presidential partner Joe Biden who sometimes says things his boss regrets

On their first full day in office, the Obama-Biden administration's top folks, several dozen strong plus family, had gathered in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House, as an afternoon audience for the signing of some documents and the swearing-in of some staff.

Good photo op to show the president busy already.

President Obama spoke about the importance of government openness and transparency and ethics. "The American people are really counting on us now," he said. He then signed documents to impose stricter rules on lobbying and the presumption of openness about government information for the people.

After signing the openness documents, the Great Changer proceeded to meetings with advisers that were closed.

But first, Vice President Joe Biden, newly sworn in himself in an unmuffed oath, was asked by Obama to give the oath. As he stepped forward to obey, the new ex-senator asked for a paper copy of the oath he was to administer.

"My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts'," Biden quipped.

The Obama crowd went "Oooooh" in amazement at the vice president's sarcastic shot at the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, who moved the word "faithfully" around while administering the presidential oath at Tuesday's inauguration ceremonies.

What wasn't noticed so widely was that instantly Obama's right hand went out and gave Biden's elbow a warning squeeze. This isn't Delaware, Dorothy. (It's subtle but definite; watch the video down below.)

The rest of the session went fine. And, as The Ticket reported, on the advice of his lawyer, Obama asked Roberts to visit the White House on Wednesday evening to re-administer the oath just for safety's sake. We don't want another silly simmering certificate-of-birth snafu.

Campaign followers will recall that in September Biden publicly mused at one rally that maybe Hillary Clinton would have been a better VP choice for Obama. He meant it as a compliment to his Senate colleague from New York, now a Cabinet colleague. But the Obama campaign was not keen to have the female senator they beat in delegates and rejected as VP brought back into public discussion.

So for the rest of the general election campaign, Joe ended up being considerably less available for media interviews than even the Alaska hockey mom with lipstick. Now, after Biden's crack about Roberts, watch for a foreign funeral soon that needs urgent attending.

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Associated Press

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