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Most awkward Oath of Office in decades:

I can't remember the last time the Chief Justice himself mis-administered the presidential Oath, as Roberts did today. I mean, I'd be nervous if I knew about a billion people were watching me, but his only role was to repeat 35 words prescribed by the text of the Constitution. Add to that President Obama's speaking over Roberts and then awkwardly pausing for Roberts to continue. A portent of an unusually uneasy relationship between the new administration and the federal judiciary?

Sean M.:
No kidding. You think they'd have practiced or something.
1.20.2009 12:33pm
forpeterssake (www):
A case of nerves. Justice Stevens and Vice-President Biden did a much better job.
1.20.2009 12:34pm
Virginia 1L (mail):
"A portent of an unusually uneasy relationship between the new administration and the federal judiciary?"

That's reading too much into it. Statistically, people mess up at large events when the spotlight's on them. Practice or no practice.
1.20.2009 12:35pm
SP:
The whole think seems vaguely unrehearsed. It took too long to get to the oath. The Warren prayer was bloated. Franklin was singing some song I have never heard of. Obama delivered the State of the Union a month early. I think what the lady read was a poem, but I am not sure. I only really enjoyed Biden confidently repeating his oath.
1.20.2009 12:36pm
Jonathan F.:
And, in fact, Obama never actually gave the oath in the form prescribed by the Constitution. I eagerly await the conspiracy theories claiming that all his future acts will be illegitimate because he was never entitled to "enter on the Execution of his Office."
1.20.2009 12:38pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
It was just Roberts showing he is too non-traditional.
1.20.2009 12:40pm
Sarcastro (www):
Roberts is freaked out that he is swearing in a fraud in front of the world...it came out in his stumble..amazing.
1.20.2009 12:42pm
Anderson (mail):
I eagerly await the conspiracy theories claiming that all his future acts will be illegitimate because he was never entitled to "enter on the Execution of his Office."

They're already drafting the pleadings.
1.20.2009 12:43pm
guest reader (mail):
Here's a good account of Roberts' flub:

From NBC's Pete Williams
The recitation of the presidential oath came in fits and starts.

The Constitution prescribes the text: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

But Chief Justice John Roberts, using no notes, flubbed his lines, and Obama knew it.

First, Obama jumped in before the "do solemnly swear" phrase, which seemed to throw the chief justice off his stride. Roberts rendered the next phrase as "that I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully."

"That I will execute," Obama repeated, then paused like a school teacher prompting his student with a slight nod. Roberts took another shot at it: "The off ... faithfully the pres ... the office of President of the United States."

The oath then got more or less back on track after that. Close enough for government work.

NBC's Abby Livingston adds the transcript:
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack...
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully...
OBAMA: ... that I will execute...
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully...
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability...
OBAMA: ... and will to the best of my ability...
ROBERTS: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
OBAMA: ... preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God?
OBAMA: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.
1.20.2009 12:47pm
Gerard Magliocca (mail):
"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath."

Since Cleveland counts twice, this is . . . er . . . wrong. It's only 43.
1.20.2009 12:47pm
Michael F. Martin (mail) (www):
These are human beings we're talking about here, people. Maybe the Gods on Olympus never make mistakes. Jeez.
1.20.2009 12:47pm
therut (mail):
There will also be those on the left (DU) who will say it was done on purpose to mess up a historic event. I knew it would not be long. Back to the usual.
1.20.2009 12:49pm
Mark E.Butler (mail):
They used to take the oath privately before the public swearing in. See, e.g., Lincoln, 1861. Maybe Obama did it already. Or he can do it again privately.

But I'd have been happy to see Sen. Robert Byrd rising, waving his pocket copy of the Constitution and pointing his shaky finger at the Chief Justice and Obama, and telling them to do it over and get it right.
1.20.2009 12:49pm
Ex parte McCardle:
Jonathan F.'s prediction is already coming to pass. The historical revisionists are out in force at Althouse, where the party line is that Robert's version of the oath was perfect, but Obama screwed it up because he's not really an American, etc.
1.20.2009 12:50pm
guest reader (mail):
re-watching the speech here, you can see Obama's "line please"-esque pause was meant to give Roberts a chance to correct his flub of the phrase "I will faithfully execute...," which Roberts had just rendered incorrectly as "that I will execute the office..."

When Roberts tries again, Obama gives him an encouraging smile. Amusing stuff.
1.20.2009 12:51pm
Mike Keenan:
I wondered what happened there. I thought Roberts was saying something weird "the office of president to the United States". How can he make such a mess of it? Let's hope he gets it right next time.
1.20.2009 12:54pm
Seamus (mail):

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath."

Since Cleveland counts twice, this is . . . er . . . wrong. It's only 43.


I don't know. Cleveland was a pretty big guy. Maybe thought he was the equivalent of two men. But then you'd think he'd have done the same for Big Bill Taft.
1.20.2009 12:55pm
Oren:
This justifies Obama's vote against confirming him to CJ.
1.20.2009 12:56pm
Nunzio:
Roberts apparently doesn't like to split the infinitive, regardless of the text.
1.20.2009 12:56pm
Seamus (mail):
Make that "Maybe Obama thought."
1.20.2009 12:57pm
DangerMouse:
These are human beings we're talking about here, people. Maybe the Gods on Olympus never make mistakes. Jeez.

Obama is the Messiah. He's THE ONE. He doesn't make mistakes.
1.20.2009 12:58pm
OrinKerr:
Sometimes a flubbed line is just a flubbed line.
1.20.2009 12:59pm
Another David (mail):

I don't know. Cleveland was a pretty big guy. Maybe thought he was the equivalent of two men. But then you'd think he'd have done the same for Big Bill Taft.


The obvious conclusion is that each of them counts for one and a half men.
1.20.2009 12:59pm
Anon21:
I think it's time for another edition of Orin Kerr's famous series, the John G. Roberts Umpire Watch. In this edition, Roberts is unfavorably compared to Doug Eddings.
1.20.2009 1:02pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Technically, Hoovert never took the presidential OATH either (but rather opted for an affirmation). So that makes 42.....
1.20.2009 1:05pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
It actually makes me feel a little better because that's the kind of thing I would have done. However, Roberts &Obama are two of the smoothest talkers I know of; so it's surprising it came from them.
1.20.2009 1:06pm
Gramarye:
Go easy on Roberts. It's not like it's his job to know the text of the Constitution backwards and forwards or anything. 8-)
1.20.2009 1:07pm
BT:
Can't wait for the Linda Greenhouse article on what Robert's flubbing his lines and Obama's correction means in the great scope of things.
1.20.2009 1:08pm
Barristers Handshake:
Clearly none of you paid attention in lawschool... the Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. Therefore, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Oath is whatever Roberts said. BHO obviously botched it.
1.20.2009 1:08pm
josh:
SP said, "Franklin was singing some song I have never heard of ..."

Really? You've never heard of "My Country 'Tis of Thee"?
1.20.2009 1:08pm
Jonathan F.:
Roberts apparently doesn't like to split the infinitive, regardless of the text.
". . . [T]hat I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States" is future tense, not an infinitive.
1.20.2009 1:09pm
Mark E.Butler (mail):
On BBC they called it "the national anthem." But that was before she started singing.
1.20.2009 1:11pm
shertaugh:
When Ronald Reagan took the oath of office in 1981, CJ Warren Burger had the oath on a piece of paper and read from it.

Here's the YouTube link (can't get it posted properly).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC5vd_TxDuw

Go to 5.44 and see Burger looking down at the oath to make sure he get's it right.
1.20.2009 1:13pm
Perry Dane:
There's an old Jewish tradition that requires that certain ritual texts actually be read rather than recited from memory, regardless of how confident the reader is that he or she knows the words by heart. (I wouldn't be surprised if some of the more liturgically-inclined Christian traditions had a similar rule.) There's some real insight here into human fallibility, particularly when all eyes are on you and the task seems (seems!) so simple.
1.20.2009 1:15pm
DailyRich (mail):
Eh, Bush nailed the oath and flubbed everything else, I'll gladly take the trade-off.
1.20.2009 1:17pm
Visitor Again:
On BBC they called it "the national anthem." But that was before she started singing.

It is the national anthem--of the United Kingdom. The music is the same as that for God Save the Queen.
1.20.2009 1:17pm
Prof. S. (mail):

Clearly none of you paid attention in lawschool... the Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. Therefore, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Oath is whatever Roberts said.


Now that's a great line.
1.20.2009 1:20pm
CDU (mail) (www):
There's an old Jewish tradition that requires that certain ritual texts actually be read rather than recited from memory, regardless of how confident the reader is that he or she knows the words by heart


Reading is no guarantee against flubbing (as I have demonstrated on several occasions).
1.20.2009 1:21pm
commontheme (mail):

A portent of an unusually uneasy relationship between the new administration and the federal judiciary?

No, but perhaps a portent of intelligence and competence in at least one of those branches.
1.20.2009 1:24pm
NTB24601:
Barristers Handshake:

Clearly none of you paid attention in lawschool... the Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. Therefore, I think it's reasonable to assume that the Oath is whatever Roberts said. BHO obviously botched it.

Au contraire. You have clearly not paid attention to Supreme Court decisions during the last decade. That argument would work only if Justice Kennedy -- the swing voter -- had said it.
1.20.2009 1:25pm
Andy L.:
"Franklin was singing some song I have never heard of."

What is the saying? "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt"? Duh!
1.20.2009 1:25pm
gran habano:
LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES HAVE JUST TAKEN FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH INTO CUSTODY SJORTLY BEFORE DEPARTING FOR CRAWFORD, TX. THE FORMER PRESIDENT WAS HANDICUFFED AND TAKEN AWAY BY US FEDERAL MARSHALS ON UNSPECIFIED CHARGES.

DEVELOPING....
1.20.2009 1:27pm
gran habano:
Ok, did your heart flutter just a BIT when you read that?
1.20.2009 1:29pm
JoeSixpack (mail):
Barristers Handshake nailed it.
1.20.2009 1:29pm
prison rodeo:
Flutter, yes. With glee.
1.20.2009 1:31pm
slimslowslider (mail):
The conspiracy types are on it, caps lock and all.


DID ANYONE NOTICE JUDGE ROBERTS LEFT OUT FOR OBAMA TO UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION AGAINST FORIEGN AND DOMESTIC THREATS , STRANGE HOW COME THEY TOOK DIFFERNT OATHES
1.20.2009 1:42pm
Hoosier:
Jonathan F.:
And, in fact, Obama never actually gave the oath in the form prescribed by the Constitution. I eagerly await the conspiracy theories claiming that all his future acts will be illegitimate because he was never entitled to "enter on the Execution of his Office."

And thus they don't have to pay taxes.


So why are liberals getting on Roberts for failing to read the oath of office as a "strict constructionist"?
1.20.2009 1:43pm
AnonymousFederalist:
What I think happened is:

Roberts got it in his mind he was going to re-word the oath to get around a split infinitive. Instead of the classic "To faithfully execute...", Roberts wanted "to execute...faithfully."

When Roberts used this construction while administering the oath, it threw Obama, who thought Roberts had flubbed the line. Obama didn't realize Roberts had said it this way on purpose.

Obama noticed Roberts omitted the "faithfully" from the usual place, and waited for Roberts to say the line correctly, which he initially was not going to do. Obama then realized what Roberts was doing and played along.

An absolutely ridiculous way of enforcing a ridiculous grammar rule.
1.20.2009 1:46pm
Hoosier:
Michelle didn't even blink when that happened.

Poise.
1.20.2009 1:48pm
David Warner:
Churchill took great pride in never needing notes until one day (still early in his career) when he found that he... needed notes, and suddenly, and didn't have them. Very embarassing. From that day forward, he was never without them, though of course often spoke without looking at them.
1.20.2009 1:51pm
dearieme:
No big deal. Unless W had done the like, in which case it would have been beaten up into a huge deal.
1.20.2009 2:04pm
Jonathan F.:
What I think happened is:

Roberts got it in his mind he was going to re-word the oath to get around a split infinitive. Instead of the classic "To faithfully execute...", Roberts wanted "to execute...faithfully."

When Roberts used this construction while administering the oath, it threw Obama, who thought Roberts had flubbed the line. Obama didn't realize Roberts had said it this way on purpose.

Obama noticed Roberts omitted the "faithfully" from the usual place, and waited for Roberts to say the line correctly, which he initially was not going to do. Obama then realized what Roberts was doing and played along.

An absolutely ridiculous way of enforcing a ridiculous grammar rule.
Again, it's not an infinitive -- the line isn't, "to faithfully execute," it's "I will faithfully execute." I believe the Framers avoided splitting any infinitive in drafting the Constitution.

Also, I am listening to the tape again, and it seems very clear to me that Roberts appears to be grasping for memory when reciting the words "that I will," and then hesitates and slightly misses a beat where the next word "faithfully" should have been. After Obama says, "that I will execute--" and stops, Roberts comes back in, sounding eager and relieved: "the off-- faithfully the Pres-- Office of President of the United States . . . ."

I can't tell if you were serious or if this was a parody of the "split infinitives are okay" crusade, but I don't believe that anyone, on listening several times to Roberts' performance, could think that his errors were intentional. And whatever his errors may have been, the Presidential Oath of Office doesn't contain any infinitives, aplit or otherwise.
1.20.2009 2:12pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
This was a conspiracy by BushHaliburtonMcChimpyNaziCheney to embarass Obama. John Roberts has receptors in his head implanted by Karl Rove on behalf Big Oil, Big Wal-Mart, Diebold, the NRA, and Blackwater in order to control his court rulings that favor Big Business, destroy the environment, leave people afraid to speak freely in public, and are responsbielf or the increase in gun violence everywhere. Using the device to embarrass Obama was just an added bonus.

I just wanted to get that last conspiracy theory in before Bush gets back to Texas. Of course, Bush, Rove, and Cheney will be to blame for everything until at least November 2012.
1.20.2009 2:18pm
Sarcastro (www):
So is Roberts no longer a textualist?
1.20.2009 2:18pm
Bruce:
I assumed SP was joking, that he/she knows what song it was intended to be, but was questioning how close the actual sung version was to "My Country Tis of Thee".
1.20.2009 2:19pm
Hoosier:
Jonathan F:

And whatever his errors may have been, the Presidential Oath of Office doesn't contain any infinitives, split or otherwise.

Oh, yeah, Mr. Smarty?

What about when the president pledges "To boldly go where no man has gone before"?
1.20.2009 2:19pm
Darren St (mail):
to be honest, "president to the united states faithfully" is a strange phrase. the meat of the oath is "swear I will faithfully execute" which Obama never said.

Forget about conspiracy theories, even though I'm sure many Rs will snicker at the notion of Obama having never said the proper oath laid out in the Constitution.

Roberts didnt bring his A game and Obama deserves better, as it undermines the day in a small way.
1.20.2009 2:20pm
jbeuks (mail):
What's the good of being Chief Justice of the United States if you can't do a little on-the-fly editing of the Constitutional text? Only an annoying textualist like Scalia should object.

Seriously, it's too bad Roberts tried to wing it without having the text in front of him, just in case. After all, they have a very nice print shop in the basement of the Court that could have whipped something up for him.
1.20.2009 2:20pm
Sarcastro (www):
Obama: the One, the Messiah and now Captain of the Enterprise!
1.20.2009 2:23pm
LM (mail):
Who's the Justice most likely to tease Roberts about this?
1.20.2009 2:27pm
commontheme (mail):

No big deal. Unless W had done the like, in which case it would have been beaten up into a huge deal.

You mean if W had noticed that the Chief Justice had flubbed the line and waited for him to correct it?
1.20.2009 2:33pm
Anon21:
LM:
Who's the Justice most likely to tease Roberts about this?

I would imagine Nino, on the theory that he is the Justice most likely to tease about anything.
1.20.2009 2:35pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
What I think happened is that Roberts said, "I, BHO, do solemnly swear..." except that Obama jumped in after "I, BHO", expecting (as did I) a pause there. That threw Roberts off, and he lost his train of thought.
1.20.2009 2:37pm
Michael B (mail):
If there's any real portent, it would involve the two or three documents - presumably executive orders - Obama signed immediately after taking the oath. Any reports on what they were? Seems odd, but haven't seen or heard this reported.
1.20.2009 2:37pm
Hoosier:
Sarcastro (www):
Obama: the One, the Messiah and now Captain of the Enterprise!

What do you mean "and now"?

But that doesn't exhaust his Styles.

This is the one that concerns me.
1.20.2009 2:52pm
guest reader (mail):
David Nieporent, those are my thoughts exactly.

I expected a pause after I, BHO, as did Obama. Obama jumping in at that point threw off Roberts, who then proceeded to misplace the word "faithfully," and Obama's pause, which I interpreted live as a "line please" pause, was in fact a pause to allow CJ Roberts to correct himself.

Quite a fascinating little piece of human interaction, and so easy to put yourself in their shoes. I'm sure Roberts had worked and memorized the Oath, but suddenly everything came off track when Obama spoke unexpectedly (to Roberts anyway -- as I said, I agree with David that Obama jumped in where one would naturally expect a pause to be).
1.20.2009 2:52pm
Anderson (mail):
After Obama says, "that I will execute--" and stops, Roberts comes back in, sounding eager and relieved: "the off-- faithfully the Pres-- Office of President of the United States . . . ."

What's odd is that, after Roberts comes back &says it correctly, Obama then goes ahead &says it with "faithfully" at the end like Roberts initially said.

Deliberate? A nod to Roberts that Obama doesn't really care where the adverb goes?
1.20.2009 2:53pm
Hoosier:
Deliberate? A nod to Roberts that Obama doesn't really care where the adverb goes?

A pre-arranged signal to the NWO sleeper-cells.
1.20.2009 2:55pm
PlugInMonster:

Sarcastro (www):
Roberts is freaked out that he is swearing in a fraud in front of the world...it came out in his stumble..amazing.
1.20.2009 12:42pm


Exactly, Obama is a fraud. I hope he fails utterly.
1.20.2009 2:59pm
PlugInMonster:
Obama - "I Swear I will faithfully execute all Republicans and conservatives in the newly established death camps".
1.20.2009 3:01pm
NaG (mail):
I know that the President's oath is specifically spelled out in the Constitution. The Vice President's is not. However, the Vice President's oath, as recited by Biden, became this long, sprawling thing that was easily twice as long as what President Obama recited. That seems wrong to me. Who wrote the Veep's oath? Is that like marriage vows, where they can write their own?
1.20.2009 3:04pm
PC:
Obama - "I Swear I will faithfully execute all Republicans and conservatives in the newly established death camps".

Tsk, tsk. They are reparations camps.
1.20.2009 3:05pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Orin Kerr notes: Sometimes a flubbed line is just a flubbed line.

But we know, from Clinton, that a cigar is not always a cigar...
1.20.2009 3:05pm
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

What's odd is that, after Roberts comes back &says it correctly, Obama then goes ahead &says it with "faithfully" at the end like Roberts initially said.


He was already past the point where "faithfully" belongs, having just said "that I will execute" before pausing. That's when Roberts just mutters some nonsense and Obama goes with the line Roberts intially stated.
1.20.2009 3:06pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
VPs say the usual federal oath. Same that soldiers use. Or cabinet members.
1.20.2009 3:07pm
Anon21:
NaG:
I know that the President's oath is specifically spelled out in the Constitution. The Vice President's is not. However, the Vice President's oath, as recited by Biden, became this long, sprawling thing that was easily twice as long as what President Obama recited. That seems wrong to me. Who wrote the Veep's oath? Is that like marriage vows, where they can write their own?

I believe that the oath is established by statute. It is the same oath that Senators and Representatives take--possibly also federal judges and cabinet officers? In any event, it certainly has nothing to do with Biden's choice.
1.20.2009 3:11pm
MarkField (mail):

What I think happened is that Roberts said, "I, BHO, do solemnly swear..." except that Obama jumped in after "I, BHO", expecting (as did I) a pause there. That threw Roberts off, and he lost his train of thought.


I saw it this way too.
1.20.2009 3:11pm
commontheme (mail):

What I think happened is that Roberts said, "I, BHO, do solemnly swear..." except that Obama jumped in after "I, BHO", expecting (as did I) a pause there. That threw Roberts off, and he lost his train of thought.

So much for Roberts reputation as being a stellar advocate who can think quickly on his feet.
1.20.2009 3:24pm
SP:
Do you actually think I am unaware of My Country Tis of Thee? My point was that Franklin's version was rather... Unconventional.
1.20.2009 3:32pm
Mike Keenan:
Youtube has most of the oaths of office of the last 80 years. In 1933, Chief Justice Hughes repeated the entire oath before letting Roosevelt say anything. Other than that, everyone said "I (name) do solemnly swear". Only George Bush in 1989 had a minor flub. He said the word "I" as if to interrupt the Chief in exactly the same place as Obama did. But, Bush quickly stopped. Most of the Chiefs were careful not to pause between the name and the word "do". Apparently, the custom used to be to ask a question "Do you (name) solemnly swear".
1.20.2009 3:34pm
LM (mail):
PlugInMonster:

Obama - "I Swear I will faithfully execute all Republicans and conservatives in the newly established death camps".

Do you know anything about the schedule? My next door neighbor has this great view, and I'd love to start booking contractors to knock down the adjoining wall and take over his apartment. Thanks.
1.20.2009 3:34pm
NowMDJD (mail):
A subconscious slip by the Chief Justice?

Recall that Obama had some very harsh things to say about Judge Roberts during the confirmaiton hearings, was one of only 22 senators who voted against him, and has pointedly implied that he would choose different sorts of people to fill judicial vacancies.

Justice Roberts no doubt had to swallow hard to administer the oath to Obama.
1.20.2009 3:34pm
jalrin (mail):
This will not be a big deal. The first thing the feds do after they administer an oath orally is have you sign it on paper. Therefore no matter what, everything will be fine from the moment that piece of paper was signed. they do this for every office so things should be okay.
1.20.2009 3:36pm
LM (mail):

This will not be a big deal. The first thing the feds do after they administer an oath orally is have you sign it on paper.

If Obama has nothing to hide, why hasn't he released the signed oath?
1.20.2009 3:47pm
tsotha:
But we know, from Clinton, that a cigar is not always a cigar...

Well, at least we know not to accept an offered cigar.
1.20.2009 3:49pm
SwedishSkinJer (mail):
Ugh, the only people that call Obama The One and The Messiah are the right-wingers. I can assure you that no Democrat believes that Obama is God, and this popular right-winger insult was only sarcastically expressed by John McCain's horrid ad.
1.20.2009 3:50pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
But...but...this is so much FUN. We want to worry about it.
1.20.2009 3:57pm
David Warner:
Commontheme,

"So much for Roberts reputation as being a stellar advocate who can think quickly on his feet."

What exactly is common about your theme again? Or is it common in the derogatory sense?
1.20.2009 4:00pm
Putting Two and Two...:
Without knowing how Roberts was supposed to break up the oath -- stopping, or not, between the name and "do solemnly swear" -- we can't really say who flubbed it. But if it was Roberts, surely his intent was to hurry the process along. After all, it was already 10 minutes late...
1.20.2009 4:09pm
Jonah (mail) (www):
Aw, Roberts will have plenty of times to get it right in the future.

I like the theory that Roberts was hurrying it along to prevent a Constitutional crisis of "Whose Presidency Is it Anyway?"
1.20.2009 4:16pm
Hoosier:
David Warner

No need to respond to people who question Roberts's abilities. It's like questioning Kate Beckinsale's awesomeness.

Absurd.
1.20.2009 4:20pm
Hoosier:
LM

I know you were kidding about the signed oath. But do you have any explanation for the lack of a birth-certificate?

And please, everyone, no flaming. I don't think that there's anything at all fishy about this. It just struck me last night that--one would think--this is a document that we would have for any president. I'm simply curious as to why it has not been produced, since there must be some reason.

University transcripts strike me as a different matter. They should be available, in my opinion. But Obama is following precedent in not releasing them. So it's hard to take this as a sign of anything, other than perhaps safeguarding some realm of personal privacy.
1.20.2009 4:24pm
SeaDrive:
Justice Roberts no doubt had to swallow hard to administer the oath to Obama.


It amazes me how many people don't believe that there are men of principle who faithfully execute their offices for the good of country as they best see it.

I always assume that the criticisms that people make reveal what their own actions would be, and small-minded criticism comes from small-minded people.
1.20.2009 4:29pm
Prof. S. (mail):

Ugh, the only people that call Obama The One and The Messiah are the right-wingers. I can assure you that no Democrat believes that Obama is God, and this popular right-winger insult was only sarcastically expressed by John McCain's horrid ad.



I wouldn't be too sure of that. "Few," I'll give you. "Virtually no," maybe. But I would be very, very careful about saying that none do.
1.20.2009 4:31pm
Jimmy S.:
Ugh, the only people that call Obama The One and The Messiah are the right-wingers. I can assure you that no Democrat believes that Obama is God, and this popular right-winger insult was only sarcastically expressed by John McCain's horrid ad.


Oh, no. Democrats are completely level-headed about the new President, and never write insipid, fawning headlines like "Obama raises hand, lifts a nation" and plaster them on CNN's website. Just doesn't happen.
1.20.2009 4:38pm
LN (mail):
While there are a lot of people who are over-excited about "Hope and Change," if someone on the Volokh Conspiracy talks about "The One" or "The Messiah," there is a 99.99% chance of that person not being an Obama supporter.
1.20.2009 4:41pm
giovanni da procida (mail):

But I'd have been happy to see Sen. Robert Byrd rising, waving his pocket copy of the Constitution and pointing his shaky finger at the Chief Justice and Obama, and telling them to do it over and get it right.


There are actually a lot of times I'd be happy to see that. Not enough people who screw up get scolded by old men quoting the classics.
1.20.2009 4:46pm
r (mail) (www):
Remember Obama did vote against Roberts..
1.20.2009 4:55pm
Aggle:
I'm wondering if Obama forgot that a good lawyer should never interrupt the Judge. ;-)
1.20.2009 4:58pm
LM (mail):
Hoosier:

I know you were kidding about the signed oath. But do you have any explanation for the lack of a birth-certificate?

I thought some Hawaiian state officials had more or less vouched for his birth certificate, but honestly I haven't paid that much attention to it. (I admit I have been endlessly entertained by those making an issue of it.)

I'm generally skeptical of the sort of conspiracy theories required to account for contemporaneous birth announcements, so until Jim Lindgren or Orrin Hatch or Newt Gingrich or the SCOTUS think there's something to worry about, I assume I don't have to concern myself with it.

BTW, have we seen the Bush Sr. and Jr. birth certificates? Bill Clinton's? I don't know that either.
1.20.2009 5:18pm
DangerMouse:
Ugh, the only people that call Obama The One and The Messiah are the right-wingers. I can assure you that no Democrat believes that Obama is God, and this popular right-winger insult was only sarcastically expressed by John McCain's horrid ad.

Would you prefer that I call him the Infanticide President? Maybe that's not inclusive enough. Just off hand, here are your options that I can think of. I'm sure more of then will come:

Option A: The ONE, The Messiah (always preceeded by a capital letter)

Option B: The Infanticide President.

Option C: Obambi.

Option D: Hopenchange (one word).

Maybe something to do with unicorns, also. I admit, I don't have the creative talent that comes with the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the left has done for years in order to come up with names like "Chimpy McBushitlerburton" or the ever popular "Darth Cheney", but it's a start.
1.20.2009 5:54pm
Sarcastro (www):
I'm offended, DangerMouse! The Infanticide President would inevitable be abbreviated TIP, which is clearly a reference to Obama's race somehow!

Other, less offensive names the always classy Right has come up with:

Thug in Chief, Bogus POTUS, Osama, Obeyme, Obamination, Barack O'Possum, Saint of Hyde Park, Fauxbama, O'barmy, Black Whiteguilt Oblack, Obamafuhrer,
BARRYSTROIKA, Obama-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong, Hussein ObamaMessiaHamas, Ubingobangobongo, Obamacaca.

Just be glad it wasn't Hillary.
1.20.2009 6:10pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):

Hedley Lamarr: Repeat after me: I...
Men: I...
Hedley Lamarr: ...your name...
Men: ...your name...
Hedley Lamarr: [to himself] Shmucks.
[continues aloud]
Hedley Lamarr: ... do pledge allegiance...
Men: ...do pledge allegiance...
Hedley Lamarr: ...to Hedley Lamarr...
Men: ...to Hedy Lamarr...
Hedley Lamarr: That's *Hedley*!
Men: That's Hedley.


So what's wrong with a little fun at a ceremony?
1.20.2009 6:31pm
DangerMouse:
Sarcastro,

Some of those are good. I'd like to think of one that has the ever popular "Mc" prefix. Obambi McHopenchange, maybe.
1.20.2009 6:36pm
Dennis Nicholls (mail):

Roberts apparently doesn't like to split the infinitive, regardless of the text.


As pointed out before there isn't a split infinitive in the text of the Constitution. However there is a grammatical error in the text of Art. II, sec. 1, paragraph 8, which recites in pertinent part "Before he enter[sic] on the Execution of his Office...". The subject and verb do not agree.

Also note that "so help me God" isn't there either, so apparently it is permissible to ADD to the text as long as the Constitutionally mandated text is fully included.
1.20.2009 6:43pm
Michael B (mail):
It's good to know there is no cult of personality surrounding Obama. It's all been a figment of the imagination of those Rs, rightwingers and presumably those "whites" who are still belated in "doing right," in marked contrast to other races in our now post-racial society.
1.20.2009 6:47pm
LM (mail):

Obama-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong

That's funny.
1.20.2009 6:49pm
LM (mail):

It's good to know there is no cult of personality surrounding Obama. It's all been a figment of the imagination of those Rs, rightwingers and presumably those "whites" who are still belated in "doing right," in marked contrast to other races in our now post-racial society.

Hyperbole and racial straw men aside, yeah, pretty much.
1.20.2009 6:52pm
Jonathan F.:
As pointed out before there isn't a split infinitive in the text of the Constitution. However there is a grammatical error in the text of Art. II, sec. 1, paragraph 8, which recites in pertinent part "Before he enter[sic] on the Execution of his Office...". The subject and verb do not agree.
I'm afraid you're wrong. "He enters" would be the thid person present indicative, but this is the present subjunctive. "[B]efore he enters" is correct, although it may sound strange today because of the decline in use of the subjunctive.
1.20.2009 7:07pm
Jonathan F.:
Sorry, the last sentence should of course have said "[B]efore he enter."
1.20.2009 7:08pm
LHD (mail):
Actually, I agree with those above who have said that Roberts probably got thrown when Obama jumped in early and also that where Obama jumped in does feel like a place you would expect a pause.

If that's true, then I think we have evidence that no one went over with them exactly how it was going to be done before they did it. Which, I have to admit, is surprising, since they ruthlessly script these events.

I bet that'll change. There will henceforth be a Coordinator of Pauses and Breaths During the Administration of the Oath of Office at each inauguration. A committee should study the issue.

The other plausible theory, though, is performance anxiety. It's never the same when the cameras are rolling and people are watching. Just ask newbies to the adult film industry.
1.20.2009 7:26pm
Non-T14 Dude:
I've heard Tribe's bragged about having had both Roberts and Obama as students. I heard that before the election Tribe even said his "fantasy" was to see one of his students, Chief Justice Roberts, swear in another of his students, Obama, as president (can someone please find and link to that?).

Well, now we know the results of Tribe's teaching!

(In Roberts' defense, I read somewhere that when Roberts took the course, Tribe didn't assign a casebook; he just assigned his own "treatise," which I guess wouldn't actually tell you much about constitutional law! I'll try to find and post that.)

Apart from their mutual disadvantage of having had Tribe teach them constitutional law, I suppose it's not surprising that Roberts and Obama couldn't get the constitutional text right,as they both got subpar grades from Larry Tribe. Tribe publicly outed Roberts a few years ago as being just an A- student, and Obama carped about it during law school:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1493875/posts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVt2dH7d69k

http://volokh.com/posts/1217534721.shtml#408513
1.20.2009 8:30pm
first history:
Dennis:

Who can forget this oath-taking ceremony:

OTTER: Get up!

(Screaming)

OTTER: (Screaming) Let's go! On your feet!

(All screaming excitedly)

HOOVER: "l...." State your name.

ALL: l...state your name.

HOOVER: "...do hereby pledge allegiance to the frat."

ALL: ...do hereby pledge allegiance to the frat.

HOOVER: "With liberty and fraternity for all."

ALL: Amen.

HOOVER: Sergeant at Arms... do your duty.

BLUTO: From now on, your Delta Tau Chi name is Weasel.

From now on your name is Mothball.

Kroger, your Delta Tau Chi name is Pinto.

KROGER: Why Pinto?
BLUTO: Why not?

DORFMAN: What's my Delta Tau Chi name?

BLUTO: Dorfman, l've given this a lot of thought.

From now on... your name is Flounder.

DORFMAN: Flounder?

(All screaming)
1.20.2009 8:51pm
cognitis:
Jonathan:

Where'd you learn American? I don't remember ever before seeing an American verb conjugated in the 3rd person present subjunctive.
1.20.2009 9:50pm
LHD (mail):
I think cognitis was being sarcastic, but I can't tell. That may be a warning sign that it's time for me to stop reading comments tonight.
1.20.2009 10:09pm
David Warner:
LM,

"until Jim Lindgren or Orrin Hatch or Newt Gingrich or the SCOTUS think there's something to worry about, I assume I don't have to concern myself with it."

A major factor in dissuading any of this nonsense was the fact that under a strict reading of the law, McCain wasn't technically eligible either, being born in the Canal Zone before it was U.S. territory, as I understand matters.
1.20.2009 10:21pm
cognitis:
I'd give odds that no other poster on this one blog could correctly conjugate fully "to be" in the subjunctive mode; I'd also give odds that less than one in 10,000 Americans could do so correctly. The Romans' distinction between certain and uncertain exposition demonstrates insight into truth, and Americans' ceasing to make this distinction demonstrates negligence; careful exposition of certainty or uncertainty, in determining whether testimony be hearsay or not for example, should concern lawyers.
1.20.2009 10:45pm
Michael B (mail):
"Hyperbole and racial straw men aside, yeah, pretty much." LM

Don't be so defensive LM.

From Farrakhan stating "the Messiah is absolutely speaking" and indicating Barack will bring "universal change," to text in his campaign ads that indicated "we can change the world" and "we can save the planet," to Matthews/Olberman and the obsequiousness of the press in general, to Slate.com's ongoing "Obama Messiah Watch" dedicated to "considering evidence that Obama is the Son of God," to "obama/messiah" styled blogs, to 2.6 million hits when "obama" and "messiah" are searched, to the "Jesus was a community organizer" motif, to rightwinger sites such as Mother Jones' articles titled "Barack Obama's Messiah Complex," to any number of other references that could be offered - it all makes no difference - it's all others' imagination, those damned "rightwingers," makin' stuff up.

And there were no strawmen, racial or otherwise. The words chosen reflect direct quotes from other commenters and from the minister who gave the benediction after the oath of office.

It was intended more lightly and not so seriously, but they were direct quotes from others, not I.
1.20.2009 11:15pm
Jonathan F.:
Jonathan:

Where'd you learn American? I don't remember ever before seeing an American verb conjugated in the 3rd person present subjunctive.
In America, and I think the subjunctive mood is a pretty well accepted part of the English language.
1.20.2009 11:16pm
Jonathan F.:
Although, to be fair, I also learned Latin.
1.20.2009 11:22pm
cognitis:
Jonathan:

Thanks for your reply. Your care in examining an American text indicated to me your knowledge of Latin, and I too read Latin. You state the subjunctive mode to be "well accepted"; all regular bloggers on this site have degrees in litterae humaniores, but none ever use the third person present subjunctive. Again, thanks for your reply, and hopefully Roman insight will be injected again into American.
1.21.2009 12:11am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
michael:

Slate.com's ongoing "Obama Messiah Watch" dedicated to "considering evidence that Obama is the Son of God"


What a joke. You're transparently twisting the evidence, in much the same way you've done before. Like here, where I pointed out how you presented an LAT article as an example of work produced by "conservative blogs."

You are purportedly presenting evidence that someone views Obama as a 'messiah,' but most of the evidence you're citing is just instances of what you're doing yourself: someone claiming that there's someone else who views Obama as a 'messiah.' In other words, your 'proof' is recursive. You're doing a silly trick with mirrors.

The Slate "Obama Messiah Watch" started here. But it's not Slate claiming that Obama is a messiah. It's Slate claiming that someone else is doing that. Does it present any real evidence? None that I can find.

Mother Jones' articles titled "Barack Obama's Messiah Complex"


This article is here. And just like the Slate article, it mocks and criticizes Obama. Does it show any proof that someone views Obama as a 'messiah?' None that I can find.

By the way, the Slate and Mojo articles date back to a time when Hillary was considered the D front-runner. So it's not particularly shocking to find that certain non-Republicans were looking for ways to slam Obama.

2.6 million hits when "obama" and "messiah" are searched


Guess what: the comment you wrote about "obama" and "messiah" is probably one of those hits. Most of the top items are people expressing your perspective. Like an American Thinker article called "Obama's Messiah Shtick." Or Michelle Malkin pointing to the Slate article. So you're getting lots of hits because the righty echo chamber has been very busy doing what you're doing, and writing articles with titles like "Obama's Messiah Shtick."

In other words, when asked to prove your claim that there is a "cult of personality surrounding Obama," you bring as evidence a bunch of people simply making the same claim you're making: that there's a cult of personality surrounding Obama. Trouble is, the 'proof' they're presenting is just as underwhelming and circular as the 'proof' you're presenting.

Here's a clue: presenting an instance of someone else presenting the same straw man you're presenting is not the same thing as presenting proof that the straw man is something other than a straw man.

I think you're having trouble dealing with certain simple realities: Obama is popular, and a lot of people find him inspiring. This doesn't justify the hyperbole you're using, but apparently you can't find any other way to cope.

PS: I have a side bet running that you won't be able to respond without using one or more of the following words: arrogate, sneer and mephitic. I could use the dough, so please don't let me down.
1.21.2009 12:31am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Most awkward Oath of Office in decades


Roberts and Obama were just getting warmed up for doing it perfectly four years from now.
1.21.2009 12:36am
Michael B (mail):
jukebox_sneer,

Ok.
1.21.2009 1:07am
Ricardo (mail):
Some "Messiah" quotes:

"He is one of those men God and fate somehow lead to the fore in times of challenge"

"I think that God picked the right man at the right time for the right purpose... He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

Except, of course, these were about George W. Bush as documented at http://www.slate.com/id/2106590/. The first one, by the way, is from former Governor Pataki.
1.21.2009 2:06am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I knew I could count on you.
1.21.2009 2:08am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Just to be clear, my 2:08 was addressed at michael, not ricardo.

ricardo, thanks for those quotes. I hadn't seen them before. More citations regarding Bush-as-messiah are here.
1.21.2009 2:18am
Michael B (mail):
jukebox_sneer,

That the Left relies upon arrogations and sneers, even habitually and absent virtually any thought whatsoever, is a particularly prominent aspect of the social/political landscape.

But what's next, you're going to huff and puff and blow my house down?

Boo.
1.21.2009 12:42pm
Michael B (mail):
And for one ref. of note, it's these types of sneers and arrogations that are particularly irritating and troubling. Though that ACLU example is one only, serving as a quick example
1.21.2009 12:45pm
Michael B (mail):
A final note, for humor and some added perspective. Iowahawk's takeoff on Demi Moore's and Ashton Kutchner's "Pledge" video, and the video itself, here.
1.21.2009 1:05pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
That the Left relies upon arrogations and sneers


Would it have been so hard to throw in a token 'mephitic' and make it a trifecta?
1.22.2009 1:01am
Michael B (mail):
jukebox_sneer,

Would it have been so hard to avoid yet another sneer?

But no, I rarely use that descriptor, it's particularly severe and I reserve it for situations wherein it's applicable. It can be thoughtfully applied to some prominent aspects of the MSM, for example, the self-admiring Fourth Estate having often abdicated its proper role, and taken on the characteristics of the First and Second Estates.
1.22.2009 1:25am

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