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Just to be safe, Obama takes muffed oath one more time

Barack Obama takes the oath of presidential office from Chief Justice John Roberts with the Obama family watching and a few others around the world

Good thing we didn't get another war going last night.

Remember yesterday at the presidential inauguration with the entire world watching, except some suddenly unemployed Republicans vacationing in Mexico, how Chief Justice John Roberts messed with about-to-be President Barack Obama while reciting the oath? (See video below.)

Roberts, who was appointed by outgoing President George W. Bush, in a clear effort to make the Obama administration illegitimate and prolong Bush's tenure from Texas, moved the word faithfully to the end of a phrase instead of near the beginning. Obama, who had clearly memorized iBarack Obama's left hand on the Lincoln Bible held by Michelle Obama 1-20-09t, paused in apparent confusion. But they cleared that up and went on to complete the oath. And millions cheered anyway.

But was he really president?

Of course! The Constitution stipulates the new chief executive takes office at noon on Jan. 20. And, in fact, as we pointed out yesterday, Obama actually became the 44th president while he was sitting down listening to classical music.

But somebody on the White House legal staff wanted to be really really sure. You know lawyers. Anyway, it was all so much fun Tuesday they decided to do the oath again, even though the 2 million spectators on the National Mall had left.

As a historical footnote, without any parade tonight, Roberts made the 1.6-mile trek up Pennsylvania Avenue from the Supreme Court and readministered the oath to Obama, who may now have to pay rent for one night's stay in the White House.

No, just kidding about the rent.

Now, if we could just clear up the ongoing question of Obama's actual birthplace......

Just kidding there too, commenters.

(UPDATE: Alan Keyes stoked the Obama birth certificate controversy anew in February 2009. See Ticket coverage here.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credits: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (26)

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Roberts rushed into that like a Spring Bride. I told my friend yesterday Roberts had jumped the gun. I had barely time to look up and he launched himself into the oath. I thought it odd.

Where are the press photos? Did Obama take his oath on the Lincoln bible again? If not, which book? You know what they will be saying next.

Where are the press photos? Did Obama take his oath on the Lincoln bible again? If not, which book? You know what they will be saying next.

The report yeaterday about Obama becoming president is still wrong...
He did not become president until he was sworn in. The 20th amendment states in Section 1 "The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January". Until he was sworn in, he was still the president elect. Since he was unable to perform his duties as president until he was sworn in, Biden was essentially the actiing pres for those 5ish minutes since he was sworn in as VP before 12:00, and the 25th amendment provides that he is the president when there is none.

Roberts carries the hallmark of a Bush appointee--can't get it straight even if it's written out in the Constitution.

How nice to be totally totally totally sure.

Kinda like how we were made totally totally totally sure in 2000 when they finished the re-count. oh, wait, they didn't.

There are many pending situations where there is no such thing as a do over.

Hopefully, the Republic can last long enough to replace these radical liberals, most closely resembling Mao and Stalin, who have replaced the radical conservatives, most closely resembling the radical Muslims that they deplore.

In the meantime, what's left of the economy exists on borrowed money.

Mr Malcolm, I hope you were kidding about Chief Justice Roberts intentionally flubbing the Oath just to mess with Obama. I'm sure he was very nervous giving it for the first time, although he should have memorized it like Mr. Obama did, I'm also sure he did not flub it just because Mr Obama is a Democrat!

There is so much about Obama that I'm enthusiastic about. Unfortunately he is in a fog when it comes to moral clarity on Palestine/Israel. He, like most of the U.S.government are in the pocket of the right wing AIPAC organization which promotes giving over $6 million a day to Israel so it can bomb innocent citizens with U.S. weapons.He has never acknowledged the suffering of Palestinians without blaming Hamas. He has never acknowledged the root cause which is hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians having their homes and land stolen. Israel broke the recent ceasefire on Nov. 4 when it killed 6 Gazans.
Please write Obama and insist that the illegal blockade be lifted immediately. Then he can start trying to be a fair broker. If the blockade isn't lifted the fighting will continue. What would you do if you hadn't had necessities for 18 months. The blockade is a war crime against the 4th Geneva Convention and Israel should be prosecuted and shut off from U.S. funding which amounts to over $6 million a day.

Yeah...birth place uh. Real cute.

How bout we clear up the rabid support LA TIMES gives for Million illegal aliens in this county, whom by ALL DEFINITIONS under US FEDERAL law makes them CRIMINALS!

Seems the Times can worry about where our President is born, yet spends tens of millions over the years writing sob stories about criminal illegal aliens (who've by the way have killed over 50,000 Americans since 9/11/2001)

NO...I am NOT "just kidding".

Just like the wingnuts to protest that Obama was not truly the President. They have no problem attempting to overturn the vote of the people because of a technicality.

It is time to move -- to let the adults run the country again. You have had your four years, your greed and violence, your crimes and your prejudices. The ground truly has shifted beneath your feet.

I feel so sorry for you -- but so glad change has come to America.

Agree with earlier comment. How fitting that a Bush appointee display such utter incompetence. It would be laughable if it wasn't so disconcerting that we're talking about the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

I'd have to imagine that, though appointed by Bush, the Chief Justice has enough intelligence and self-control to get the oath right. It's not like they pulled him aside 5 minutes in advance, saying, "Oh, by the way, would you mind..."


That would be PRESIDENT Obama, MR. Anderson. :]

He didn't use a bible for the second swearing in. A bible is not required. It's simply a tradition. In response to parker 1813, you left out the last part of the 20th amendment which says, "and the terms of their successors shall then begin." That's the interpretation that Obama was president even without the oath. The second swearing in was necessary to quiet those who would question the legitimacy of Obama's presidency for the next four years. There are already those claiming, against all evidence, that he's not a U.S. citizen.

Jeez, give it a rest. Besides, even *I* know the wording of the presidential oath of office; I can hardly believe that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court doesn't.

Look everyone Obama is the President now so lets move on to a better life. Obama......

You're a writer for the LA Times and you point your finger at the Republican simply because he's a Republican? This blog seems more like a pit of excuses than a respectably written political piece.

I'm sure he retook the oath on the Holy Q'aran.

Anyone remember when Dennis Hastert mangled the oath when he administered it to Cheney on inauguration '05?

It was an innocent mistake in my opinion. We should take this historic moment and start coming together as a country, irrespective of political views and past decisions. The fact is, we are all in this TOGETHER and we each have a responsibility to participate in improving this beautiful country of ours called the United States of America.

This entire incident just confirms what Obama's critics have been saying about him all along: Without a TelePrompTer, Obama's really not a very good speaker. ;)

To me it's not that Obama is not president because he didn't take the oath correctly, exactly as subsribed by the constitution. But it's that by doing so, he did not "preserve, protect and defent" it - the very thing the oath requires him to do as president. Second, the oath has to be taken in public (not private) as well as correctly. Why was this done in private for only a few eyes to see and ears to hear? Why wasn't there at least one camera to make sure it proves to the world that Mr. Obama respects and upholds the constitution by following its requirement to the teeth? If he doesn't "preserve and protect" the constitution from the start, and in the small details, how will he preserve and protect it in its larger issues???? Think for yourself.

The "swearing in" process is ceremonial. Obama became president at noon.

I wish someone could explain this to the rest of the world. I am an American stuck in Britain this week for work (watched it streaming on CNN live). The BBC channels keep calling it an Obama mistake rather than explaining that it was Roberts' fault. I think Obama showed some class by not "showing up" Roberts on live TV. Based on his smile you knew - that he knew - there was a mistake, but he was going to be the bigger person.

Wouldn't surprise me one bit if Roberts did it intentionally. Thank God we will have some new justices who will prevent this court from swinging more to the right. It will take decades to undo the damage.

Please, are you crazy or just completely consumed by your biased hatred for Bush? You write as if this was a planned thing by the Bush admin. Get over it, let go, and move on. It will be much healthier, and you may even begin to heal your obvious paranoia.

Actually, this entire incident just confirms what Obama's critics have been saying about him all along: Without a TelePrompTer, Obama's really not a very good speaker. ;)

Seriously, though, these things happen. I was once so nervous at a gathering that when I was supposed to stand up and introduce my own mother, I said, "This is my mother... Mom" (i.e., "Mom" where her name was supposed to go). Fortunately everyone thought it was intentional and laughed, which only made me more nervous.

I'm sure it wasn't deliberate on Chief Justice Roberts's part, and you can probably enlarge the photos of the event to see if it's a Bible, a Q'uran, the Book of Mormon Senator Reid had handy, or the Washington DC phone book.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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