The Corner

Obama Took the Oath a Second Time

As for the messed-up oath at the inauguration yesterday, some observers said that right-wing nuts would be hinting darkly that Obama wasn’t really president because he had not taken the constitutionally-mandated oath as written.  Now, it turns out that reasonable people believed there was a potential problem and Obama did, in fact, take the oath a second time.  From White House counsel Greg Craig:

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.

UPDATE: The AP reports that Roberts re-administered the oath to Obama at the White House this evening, in the presence of some reporters but with no press cameras in the room.  (There was, apparently, a White House photographer there to record the event.)  It all went smoothly.

Meanwhile, in the span of a few minutes, I’ve gotten a number of emails informing me that Obama only took a second oath to head off criticism from people like…me.  “Reasonable people believed that a–holes like you and your ilk would make the oath an issue and out of an abundance of caution, to head off a–holes like you, they re-did it,” wrote one correspondent.

Think what you like.  But this is the relevant part of the Constitution, Article II, Section 1:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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.”

What is it about “shall take the following oath” that is so unclear?  The presidential oath has been administered nearly 60 times in American history.  It has been messed up and repeated before.  What was so crazy about doing it this time?


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