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Readers Question Obama's Second Swearing In

Lots going on in the first work day of the new administration, but without question the story that has generated the most creativity among our Readers Who Comment is the one about the do-over oath of office that Chief Justice Roberts administered to President Obama.

While there is no question that this time they got the oath right, a number of our readers wonder why a Bible was not used, as it was for the public swearing-in, and some suggest sinister reasons or questions of constitutionality surrounding this second effort. Others ascribed such questions to Right Wingnuts, a term they use to counter the dreaded label, Liberal.

One reader wondered if the fouled-up intial oath wasn't a Roberts payback because then-Sen. Obama had voted against confirming Roberts.

A few were more creative, like HumbleGovWorker, who wrote, "This is not one for the Harvard Law Alumni newsletter." [Both Roberts and Obama are alums.]

cashmere1 said, "Heckuva job Justice Roberts! How embarrassing!"

jonfromcali wrote, "How long before the crazies start bloviating about the fact that Obama didn't use a Bible the time he got the oath right -- clear proof that he's a Muslim and doesn't plan to rule by Christian principles?..."

Not long.

goldmineman said, "Obama has still NOT been properly sworn in! He is NOT the POTUS until he says the oathe correctly (as written in the Constituion) and swears on the Bible. He ain't the president!"

And Bitter_Bill wrote, "He didn't use a Bible, for this, the official oath. Wonder why?"

singeril said, "This is all much ado about nothing. Obama was President before the oath was even given according to the Constitution. I don't think any of this would have been necessary had Obama not "jumped the gun" and interrupted the Chief Justice in the very early moments of the oath. I think this "startled" the Chief Justice which caused him to inver the words of the oath."

PutDownTheKoolaid wrote, "Okay, right wing wackos, you can move on now to some other pathetic excuse of a scandal to monger about."

noaxe397 said, "I think it was a good think for Obama to retake the oath. It will be one less arrow in the quiver of right wing crazies to shoot him with. And believe me, they sure would. Didn't some nut job get all the way to the Supreme Court with that "Obama's birth certificate is a fake" thing?..."

gregharbaugh1 wrote, "While I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Justice Roberts for a mistake, I am also aware that then Senator Obama voted against Roberts' confrimation. Is this a little public embarrassment as payback? A neo-con effort to cast doubt on Pres. Obama?...I think the chief justice owes the American public an apology."

but_seriously said, "Who the hell cares. Both Obama and Roberts were nervous. So what? To suggest some conspiracy on Roberts' part is shear lunacy. Frankly, the administration made a circus where there was none with its silly "re-oath" stunt."

Janice71 wrote, "Im glad they redid the oath. Better to be safe than have someone challenge it later. Justice Roberts, next time use a cheat sheet."

fishingriver said, "If this is all the press has to go after, its a good sign."

mwcob wrote, "...There is no "neo-con" conspiracy to keep Obama out of office. Ironically, the Republicans have been kinder to him than Harry Reid lately... These things happen. People need to take their prozac and move on."

bjalexa said, "Some of you people are nuts. Truly nuts. I cannot believe you can find sinister motives in this. He used a Bible and said "so help me God" in front of 1.8 million people. They did it again word-by-word exactly as written in the Constitution... Go spend some time working at your local food shelf. Most are desperate for both food and volunteers. Come back in 6 months when there's something real to talk about."

We'll close with waterfrontproperty, who wrote, "Quite simply, it was the right thing to do."

All comments on this story are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  January 22, 2009; 9:15 AM ET
Categories:  Obama , Roberts  | Tags: Oath, Obama, Roberts  
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Next: Readers Debate More Power for Fed


"Name one parent who would praise their child for speaking like Bush has."

Is that a fact? What do your parents say to you?

You wrote "Roberts and Obama two powerful men with different opinions brought together by the evil out pouring by Republicans."

Oh my!

Posted by: gary4books | January 23, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I have taken the oath of office several times in my federal career and for military service. I have never taken one of these while placing my hand on a bible. The constitution stipulates the following concerning the presidential oath: "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.'"

Not only does the constitution say nothing about using a bible, it does not include the phrase, "So help me God," which, ironically enough is stated in the statues for the oath of office for civil service and military personnel, although thje statues provide for substituting "I affirm" for this phrase.

Franklin pierce swore on a law book, not a bible; what was his nefarious purpose? Whatever it was, it seems that we have survived.

All this controversy is like "a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing," Macbeth, Shakespeare. Perhaps one day we will mature to the point where we don't need incantations and talismans; magic isn't going to pull us out of the hole we are in.

Posted by: csintala79 | January 23, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Why... because of the likes of Rust Limpblah and the nitwits.

Posted by: whocares666 | January 23, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

You go, B2O2!

Posted by: bucinka8 | January 22, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I still day Joe Biden missed his chance. The office was arguably vacant for a day and Joe was undeniably Vice-President. All he had to do take the oath in the interim.

Posted by: wgmadden | January 22, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

One little detail the religious wingnuts are glossing over (don't they always?):

THE CONSTITUTION SAYS *ZILCHO* REGARDING THE USE OF YOUR BRONZE AGE ARCHEOLOGICAL RELIC IN INSTALLING OUR SECULAR POLITICAL LEADERS. This custom is merely something people foisted upon our secular nation during less enlightened times -- when doctors still bled people for all manner of medical maladies, people believed in witches, and white people routinely thought certain races of humans were actually a different species. GET OVER IT and join the rest of us in the 21st century.

Here, for your edification (one can dream):

Some choice tidbits... Several of our presidents didn't use your Bronze Age vessel of primitive superstition for beginning their public business:

"Theodore Roosevelt did not use a Bible when taking the oath in 1901. Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon swore the oath on two Bibles. John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law.[3] Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on a Roman Catholic missal on Air Force One."

Posted by: B2O2 | January 22, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I guess it takes all types of people. It is downright frightening on how stupid people really are.

There is no requirement to swear on anything or swear to any deity.

All is well good sheeple, keep being distracted by the drama of new shiny dangling things that the MSM and Private Political Corporation hang before your eyes. That way they can run this country however they want.

Posted by: skramsv | January 22, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised that Roberts was not fully prepared. But, really, he's not the only one to blame here. What about the Inaugural Committee planners? Why didn't someone check, double check, and triple check that everything was in place?

I also think that it humanizes Roberts and perhaps will give him a little humility. After reading about his supposedly perfect life and perfect performance in almost every environment, we see that indeed, he's like the rest of us, imperfect.

Posted by: readerny | January 22, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Amazing that a constitutional "originalist" didn't use the original words and had to do it over. Next time, write it down and read it.

Posted by: StanKlein | January 22, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Please forgive John Robert Jr. because he has epilepsy.

Posted by: lamplighter035 | January 22, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

How many votes to impeach Roberts AND Scalia?
One of you Constitution wonks fill us in.

Posted by: TOMHERE | January 22, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

It's gonna be a great 8 years, I can tell already.

There were many gaffes and mis-steps throughout the day. Why should Roberts be any less human?

If Roberts was startled, maybe his mind was processing the fact that the 44th president will probably appoint someone to the SCOTUS that he's not too crazy about.

I take it as a Seinfeld moment.

As for right wingnuts, I just want to say "welcome back to America."

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | January 22, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

So he didn't take the second oath on a Bible...SO FRICKIN' WHAT? The second time the words were right, and that's what counts!

I've served on a jury twice, and neither time did I place my hand on a Bible or invoke a deity. Does that make my jury service any less valid? No, it doesn't. Why should the Presidential Oath of Office be any less binding when done sans Bible? He's still the 44th President of the United States! Justice Roberts' stumbling over the words was an honest mistake! Get over it, people...I think we have more important issues to worry about than picking nits regarding do-overs!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | January 22, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Look how the US is rated in education. The Fox News Statiion has uneducated people who call themselves Journalist like Joe the Plummer. Remember Sarah Palin was shown to be the example of the highest leveled educated person Republicans wanted as VP. Chief Justice Roberts like most humans was seeing millions of Americans looking at him, billions around the World and got nervious.

Every evil thing Republicans do back fire. Roberts and Obama are now friends who can discuss issures and agree to disagree. Thanks to Republicans attacking their own and even an idiot calling to impeach the Chief Justice. For 8 years we heard George W. Bush speak like he had never had an education and the Media made excuses for it. Name one parent who would praise their child for speaking like Bush has. The Media worked so hard to cover up Bush ignorance they called is stupid remarks Bushims. In any school Bush would have been given an F. Roberts and Obama two powerful men with different opinions brought together by the evil out pouring by Republicans. It was Chief Justice Robert who stepped up as his Party trashed him in public.

Posted by: qqbDEyZW | January 22, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Funny thing...during the campaign, plenty of the GOP fringoids were adamant that if elected, Obama would take the oath with his hand on the Koran.

Not a word from them about this.

Fellas, your comments?

Posted by: Attucks | January 22, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mobedda | January 22, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Im sure that most of the Evangelicals will call him the son of satan and a baby-killer...Palin 08...Save the babies...thats all that matters.

What a bunch of kooks...

Posted by: SA-Town | January 22, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

If the only "mistakes" Obama makes are superficial, like not using the Bible the second time around, not wearing a flag pin, and not wearing a jacket in the Oval Office, I know he is doing the right things.

Posted by: AverageJane | January 22, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Man, the wingnuts are nuttier than ever.

The Constitution says nothing about a bible. In fact, President John Quincy Adams was sworn in on a copy of the U.S. [legal] Code. He reasoned that the president was swearing to uphold the laws anyway, not enforce the Bible.

These historically and constitutionally ignorant GOPers are a hoot. Next they will say we need to go back to the Gold standard, Texas isn't really a State (the way it was brought in was a Joint Resolution not a Treaty) and other silliness.

Posted by: respondus | January 22, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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