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Inauguration Flub Watch

[Cross-posted from 44.]

The problem with Obama relying on that 27-year-old kid to write his speeches is that someone so young doesn't remember the Grover Cleveland presidency the way I do. And thus Obama opened his speech with a mistake that made every history geek in America wince and gasp (before deciding, perhaps, to call it a mere rounding error).

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

Actually, it's 43. Obama is considered the 44th president because Cleveland, whose two terms were not consecutive, is considered both the 22nd and 24th president.

And while we're on Flub Watch duty, we have to mention the awkward oath. It appears that Obama jumped the gun at the beginning a little bit, and that threw off Chief Justice Roberts, who garbled the oath. Obama then improvised a little bit. They both closed strong, however.

The oath is specified in the U.S. Constitution, so you'd think it would be flub-proof -- especially when delivered by skilled lawyers in front of 2 million people on the Mall and trillions on television. It states: "I do solemnly swear 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."

It didn't go exactly that way. Here's a transcript of the Roberts-Obama verbal tango (complete with stepped-on-feet):

ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?
OBAMA: I am.
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack...
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will l 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.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 20, 2009; 1:23 PM ET
 
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Comments

I feel bad for Roberts. I hope he gets on the right side, to make up for this.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 20, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Yah, this reminds me of playoff level NFL football, where the linemen are so anxious to get into their blocking schemes that they step on the QBs feet as he turns when pulls away from center (clearly, it's going to be a real run and not a draw).

How many times in the past couple of weeks did we watch Eli Manning and Kurt Warner hand the ball to a 'back as he was going to the turf?

I think we sorta had that here, as you point out Joel -- Roberts inadvertently stepping on Obama's feet as they manuver behind the line (note that I didn't suggest that Roberts was trying to get to a blocking scheme).

bc

Posted by: -bc- | January 20, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Nice catch on the 44 bit! And yes, clearly, Roberts messed up. But I don't think it was anything personal.

And I don't view it as any huge omen. I mean, as I recall Princess Diana flubbed her wedding vows. Oh. Right.

Well, now it's time for a parade. (Who doesn't like parades?)

And tonight there shall be the many Gala Balls. Alas, through some inexplicable oversight, I have been invited to none.


Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 20, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I call do-over. Same time again tomorrow. Start making the phone calls.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "...the linemen are so anxious to get into their blocking schemes that they step on the QBs feet as he turns to a handoff position as he pulls away from center..."

Or something like that.

Feh.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | January 20, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

bc, if you wanted Joel to riff on that, then you should have used Tebow.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 20, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I would suggest both the President and Chief Justice had to bite back a couple of "You first." "No, please, you first." "After you." "No no, I insist..."

I believe I saw smiles on both gentlemen's faces, so no ill intent will be imputed from this vantage point. :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 20, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm ever upper class high society,
God's gift to ballroom notoriety,
I always fill my ballroom
(The event is never small)
The social pages say I've got
The biggest balls of all
{snip}
Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they're held for pleasure
They're the balls that I like best.
My balls are always bouncing
to the left and to the right
It's my belief that my big balls
Should be held every night
-Bon Scott

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

From what I have read, Obama, by law, became President at Noon. Which means power transferred in the middle of a performance of beautiful music.

That'll work.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

russianthistle, I never noticed Tebow's feet getting stepped on -- possible, I just never noticed it. E. Manning and Warner, defintitely.

Having said that, Eli and Kurt are not noted for their speedy footwork, whereas Tebow's got quick feet and good moves for a bigger guy.

bc

Posted by: -bc- | January 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Sorry if these have been posted.
I heard the First Family SS code names on the box.

Barack Obama's is "Renegade,"
Michelle Obama's is "Renaissance,"
Malia Obama's is "Radiance,"
Sasha Obama's is "Rosebud."

Do they hire a contractor for those? I hope not.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 20, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Just sayin....

The only time Joel has EVER talked to me online was when I would write about aliens.

I would have used Klaatu ... in the football comparison. He too did not have great footwork, but he was able to buy time in the pocket.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 20, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Boko, doesn't that sound like something Mudge would come up with.

Loved the speech. Rev. Lowery's prayer made me weep. What a wonderful invocation of the past and good word - benediction - for us today.

We managed to have a party, even if my friend the IRS accountant and the Geekdottir were the only ones to share with me. Fabulous to have loved ones with me.

Posted by: slyness | January 20, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

The jig is up the news is out they've finally found me
The renegade who had it made retrieved for a bounty
Never more to go astray
This will be the end today of the wanted man
-Styx

I have a really bad case of classic rock Tourettes today

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Familiarity breeds contempt.
I think the oath screwing up is of the same class of affliction as the species which affects those who stand up to sing the national anthem in public.
Now the President and Chief Justice have something in common with Roseanne Barr.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 20, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Reposting from previous Kits (it's all happening so fast!)

Oh frabjous day indeed! There is much chortling here, and much rejoicing. I had the Internets up on two different computers, but I think everyone in the world logged on as the Great Moment approached. I ended up in the conference room watching it on the TV, which was much better.

Yay Aretha, and her hat will go to the Smithsonian along with GHW Bush's.

I liked Warren more than I expected, and Rev. Lowery provided the perfect ending note. I thought the oath slip-up was a little charming, a little relaxation amidst all the tension and seriousness. And no, taking the Oath isn't what makes him president.

Of course I was tremendously impressed by the speech. As I've said before, among Obama's great strengths are his ability to speak honestly about the difficulties we face as a country, his insistence on demanding action and sacrifice from the citizens, and his confidence that we will measure up to the task.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 20, 2009 1:34 PM

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 20, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Man-o-man! What a delightful and fantazimous ceremony (Chief Justice Roberts' flubbity-dub notwithstanding).

First off, I simply adored Aretha Franklin's hat -- she did it proud!

Lowrey's benediction was fabulous, and was so completely perfect for the occasion.

What I love about Obama is that (as I've said before, I know) he is the first actual ADULT to be President since I don't know when (and as my elder, Mudge, knows I am ancient-ish). And he engaged us all -- every single one of us -- as co-adults. I loved the imagery evoked by the speech, and its directness and distinct lack of euphemisms for the "hard parts."

My African sister Maggie called me from the UK, where her husband was enjoying an "Obama Day" party at his office. I just got off the phone with her on our second call (hers was right before and mine was right after), and we exulted throughout the conversation. She has twin 14-year-old boys (her husband is white, btw, so the family is a bit Barack-ish in reverse), who were transfixed on every word in the speech.

I couldn't be prouder today and I'm sure as I reflect I will wipe more tears from my face.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | January 20, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Glad you pointed out that flub Joel, I was thinking this morning that I knew there was a difference in how the US & Canada number the presidents and prime ministers but could not remember what is was. Now I know, here the prime minister does not get a new number even if their leadership is not consecutive, i.e PM Trudeau.

Could not fully concentrate on the event at work - what did everyone think - other than the dancing for joy at the transition in general.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 20, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

It's dazzling to see so many people crowd into Washington despite uncertain weather and fears of the city being overwhelmed. While the Mall was never intended to accomodate museum-to-museum people, few urban locations, anywhere, make for such a spectacle.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | January 20, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Just one more shovelful:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/liveblogging/2009/01/chief-justice-r.html#c145645778

Note: Not a position I endorse. I fully feel it was an honest mistake by a brilliant legal scholar with a subconscious bias against split infinitives. It does however call into question his credentials as a strict constructionist.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Go over to the 44 cross-post and read the first comment. DemsHateAmerica is the kind of level-headed commenter we need more of.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps it was just nerves on the Chief Justice's part. I'll bet he's a cross every "t" and dot every "i" person, in other words a good lawyer, but maybe because of the moment, got crossed up. President Obama was already the President because they were running late. The Chief Justice may be slightly embarassed by his error, but for me it is did not take away the moment. The moment was bigger than his error.

President Barrack H. Obama. I'll bet when repeating the President's full name, Bush and Cheney had a moment there.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

We're watching ABC, which just had shots of people walking on the reflecting pool. Must be rather chilly in those parts.

Ha!

I'm still floating. Of course, I'm on my third glass of champagne too. Three hours! Third glass in three hours! (Please don't tell Mr. T, he would be annoyed.)

Posted by: slyness | January 20, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Couple other thoughts. Like Ivansmom, I liked Warren more than I wanted too. And his inclusion connected nicely with President Obama's speech. Inclusion sometimes means ruffling feathers, and the speech implied Obama is going to ruffle some feathers in support of true reform. I liked the speech because of its honesty coupled with optimism.

I have never really felt as inspired by a President as I am by Obama. And part of it is generational. I "get" Obama. I understand his sense of irony and his allergy to dogma.

Tomorrow I go back to work. And that we now have a new boss really does make things different.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 20, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

whew, what a relief to see a new face on television... he's certainly a pleasure to look at and listen to.

Finally, someone intelligent and intelligible!!!

Posted by: MissToronto | January 20, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Slyness

It's still snowing here! Just a fine mist, but still coming down. I'll go stir crazy if I have stay in here two days in a row. Glad you're enjoying yourself. We'll keep your secret.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"President Obama" is fun to say.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 20, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

agreed RD!

Posted by: MissToronto | January 20, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone pick up the reference to science in the President's speech. I know that had to hit Bush somewhere or maybe it went over his head. I think it would be great if we could get the science back in. It's as if science has been jailed or sent off to some far away island.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

The crowd certainly enjoyed saying it, RD_P... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 20, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes I did, Cassandra. And I mentally pumped my fist. A president that respects science instead of ignoring will be as welcome a change as one that can talk in complete sentences.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Was that Rev. Lowery from the Civil Rights Movement? I missed that part.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how the crowds on the mall did it. I just came back from a 30 minute walk with Ray, and I'm frozen! And that was with scarf, earmuffs, winter coat, etc. etc.

Posted by: Raysmom | January 20, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, yes, it was the Joseph Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Boy, as I mentioned on another thread, that really took me back. There's a guy who deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As they say, a key person in THE DAY.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 20, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom

I am not familiar with the pastor that lead the prayer at the beginning, but I thought he did a wonderful prayer. Very heartfelt, and the supplications were beautiful, as was the fact that we indeed are caretakers of God's work. It isn't ours, but so much of the time we act as if it is, having no regard for God or those that come after us. As if everything ends, when we end.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

As I watched I also thought about the people I wish could have seen this day. They include my mom, a lifelong Dodgers fan (even after the move) because of Jackie Robinson, and her sister, an Obama supporter who died just recently. At least my aunt cast her vote and knew the Inauguration was coming.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 20, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Warren made it very clear at the end that he wasn't delivering an ecunemical prayer.
Nuff said. I won't let him ruin the day.

Posted by: Boko999 | January 20, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse


To start, the oath was botched. Obama's speech was somewhat inspirational, but hardly memmorable. The "poem" or whatever it was, was almost meaningless. It lacked the literary elements that 8th graders learn in school. The "prayer" or speech or whatever it was, rambled on and on, and though it was more poetic than the poem before it, was more of a speech than anything else. It did end with a few Amens, which makes it a prayer I suppose.

I was soundly disappointed. but perhaps I expected too much.

Posted by: Mako2 | January 20, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

*muttering to self as I work* "...Rectitude, Rapunzel, Riptide, Raconteur, Rosacea, Rectum. I think I'll assign that one to the new Cheney compound. Remoulade, Runymeade, Raccoon, Rintintin, Rockpile, Ruminant. Ok, who's gonna be Ruminant? Well, figure that out later. Got 312 more code names to go, and gotta finish by COB. Running Bear. Rapscallion. Rowdy Gates. Reprehensible. Route 66. Runaway. Rainstorm. Reagent. Rollover. Rhinoceros. Rhododendron..."

Posted by: Curmudgeon- | January 20, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes, russianthistle, what a fitting tribute. And he does indeed deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I wasn't aware that Rev. Lowery was still with us. I almost met him some years ago after meeting Jesse Jackson here. He was scheduled to speak, but something came up. It would have been an honor. Yes, a very key person.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

CNN reporting a Senator collapsed at the Luncheon - perhaps Sen. Byrd.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 20, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Now saying it might be Ted Kennedy - obviously still a confusing situation - hopefully nothing too serious.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 20, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Watching the DC ambulance back under the Capitol steps...Senator Kennedy? Ohmigosh.

Posted by: slyness | January 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh look. It's the ceremonial presentation of the crystal bowls.

Who thinks this stuff up?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 20, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

What about the passing of The Little Brown Jug?

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Risckshaw, Remington, Ricochet (oops, already taken), Ridiculous...

Just doing my part to help out.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

This man makes me weep. Every time he speaks, he makes me weep.

Posted by: slyness | January 20, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree Slyness, a nice comment re Ted Kennedy - he seemed a little choked up.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 20, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Reports seem to be confirming earlier fears of Metro being jammed beyond capacity, at least for the downtown stations.

And CNN is reporting it was Kennedy who collapsed...

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 20, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

That's all right, slyness. Me too, but you don't have to listen to George Bush anymore.

Oh, you mean the other guy.

Posted by: yellojkt | January 20, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I thought the same thing, Cassandra. Warren is pastor of one of those giant evangelical conservative megachurches. The big controversy is that he came strongly out against gay marriage and supported the California proposition banning gay marriage in the last election. He held a pre-election roundtable with the candidates to discuss religion and apparently he and Obama got on well. I am given to understand that despite this intolerant stance which has brought him vilification, Warren is actually curious about and willing to learn from other faith traditions, including Muslims and Jews. His invocation certainly reflects that. I have read that he has removed anti-gay material from his web site and suggestions that he now supports civil unions. In any case his inclusion by Obama certainly emphasized the "big tent" approach and I thought Warren rose to the occasion well.

I suspect the people who may have thought the prayers were too long aren't used to that evangelical (or Southern!) church tradition. We were lucky, folks. Trust me.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 20, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Amen, Ivansmom, amen.

Posted by: slyness | January 20, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, as a member of one of those Southern churches, I thought the prayers were nice and short. We have an associate pastor that prays as long as the minister preaches. They can get long-winded, but I thought it was okay today.

I wonder why he changed his stance on the marriage thing? Most conservatives don't approve of marriage among gay folks, and that's because it is not supported by Scripture.

Posted by: cmyth4u | January 20, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

CNN now stating Sen. Byrd collapsed as well.

Posted by: dmd2 | January 20, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

The only problem with Warren is that, on a day where we celebrate the civil rights of all people, Warren, who has likened gays to pedaphiles shared the stage. If Warren's church accepted the word of God, one would think that he would welcome all men, no matter their sins here on Earth.

Funny, his church doesn't.

When asked about this, Rick Warren dances around his own words which were available on his church's web site for all to read.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 20, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I appreciated Obama's shout-out to we nonbelievers.

Pastor Warren said something about equality for everybody and I wanted to shout at him, "Except for gay people who want to get married!"

Posted by: Gomer144 | January 20, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Just saw Orin Hatch report that he and others were with Sen. Kennedy when he was taken to the ambulance. He said Kennedy looked a little better and he believed that Kennedy had considerable pain. Hatch said it was a seizure. Also said how hard it was to watch his friend have this attack and he and others offered prayers for Kennedy.

Posted by: VintageLady | January 20, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

ABC just quoted John Kerry, who said he thought Senator Kennedy was tired.

And who wouldn't be, especially being outside in the crowds and cold.

Posted by: slyness | January 20, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, thank you for the family history you shared earlier today. It was a powerful reminder of how momentous an occasion this is.

I was moderately impressed by Warren's prayer. While overtly religious (which doesn't thrill me too much in a civic setting), I thought it did a good job of being nondenominational. Yes, I know that he invoked Jesus, including a ploy for "Jews for Jesus" by calling him by the Hebraic "Yeshua"; however, careful attention to Warren's actual words shows that he cited Jesus in a personal way, referencing his own individual religious experience.

Mako2: when you mention the missing literary elements of poetry, I can only assume you mean rhyme and meter. You may want to become acquainted with a form known as "free verse." Unless you are exceptionally ancient, like Curmudgeon, it is reasonably certain that free verse poetry was a part of your 8th grade education in poetry, like it or not. I remain surprised at the number of people who think they are making a principled stand for literary seriousness by demanding that all poetry rhyme.

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 20, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

New Kit.

Posted by: VintageLady | January 20, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Already?!?!

Posted by: ScienceTim | January 20, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure about the chamber music interlude. The music was nice, though I think I detected some strains from other works. At this remove from classical music-playing I couldn't name that tune, though. I did not, however, detect any Star Wars refrains. I'd be interested in seeing what more informed music critics have to say about it. Any boodlers have any comments?

Posted by: ebtnut | January 20, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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