America probably should have known the panoply of mistakes that were going to be made by President Barack Obama during his administration. After all, he couldn’t even take the oath of office without making a blunder.
Yes, eight years to the day before President-elect Donald Trump’s swearing-in on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible, Obama was so excited to get through the oath that he couldn’t be bothered to say it correctly.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was giving Obama the simple 35-word oath (well, 39 words if you tack on the addendum, “So help me God,” which is traditionally said but the Constitution doesn’t require). However, the senator from Illinois tripped over the part that is supposed to read, “I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States.”
Instead, as the U.K. Express reminded us, he said, “I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.”
Obama had already made things awkward by interrupting Chief Justice Roberts, making the blunder even more conspicuous.
The gaffe led many to wonder whether Roberts administered the oath properly and whether Obama had passed into office legitimately, leading the newly minted president in the uncomfortable position of taking the oath of office again a day later.
“We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday,” White House counsel Gregory B. Craig told reporters in 2009, according to The New York Times. “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 John Roberts administered the oath a second time.”
“An abundance of caution” is not something the White House would often evince over the next eight years. It began with a hasty withdrawal in Iraq and Afghanistan and taking a baseball bat to America’s already-damaged health care system.
It ended fittingly on Thursday, as, according to Fox News, Obama commuted the sentences of 330 “nonviolent” drug offenders — most of whom were acting in the service of not-usually-nonviolent dealers, gangs and criminal cartels.
We would think — hope, at least — that Donald Trump will work with a greater abundance of caution than his predecessor did. That’s why, when he takes the oath on Friday, we don’t expect this sort of gaffe.
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