With the whole world watching, Chief Justice Roberts garbled up Obama's oath of office
yesterday--deliberately, some say, since the new president must speak his piece precisely,
and Roberts made that quite impossible (unless Obama had decided to ignore his clumsy
prompts, and do it right entirely on his own).
"I'm relatively certain they re-administered the oath out of view of the masses to make it all
legit," writes a friend. "I say he screwed it up on purpose." That could be, although, if so, it
would be a pretty brazen move.
I'd say that Roberts didn't do it consciously, but that his screw-up was a stark bit of unconscious interference with Obama's swearing-in. Roberts is, of course, a flaming Bush Republican--
and, as such, intent on (further) disenfranchising the very citizens who voted, or tried to vote,
For example, Roberts has been on (what we might call) the Klan side of every Supreme
Court decision that pertains to voting rights since he was placed on that almighty body.
He voted to uphold the Indiana photo ID law, having made some idiotic arguments defending
it in open court.
The stated purpose of the law was to halt in-person "voter fraud" in Indiana. Replying to
the point that there was not a single case of such fraud ever having been discovered in that
state, Roberts noted that such lack of evidence was no surprise, since "voter fraud" is, by
its very nature, secret, and therefore leaves no traces. (Cf. Rumsfeld's Law: "Absence of
evidence is not evidence of absence.") And upon hearing that ID-less Indiana voters have
to cast provisional ballots, and then travel to the county seat to get them counted, Roberts
said that that was not a hardship, since county seats in Indiana aren't so far away.
And the Roberts Court has recently decided to take up a lawsuit arguing that there's no
longer any need for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act--a move whereby the Court
could simply nullify Congress's extension of the Act back in 2006. (For more on this, see http://markcrispinmiller.com/2009/01/scotus-hopes-to-kill-the-voting-rights-act.html.)
Such moves make very clear that our Chief Justice is a faithful servant of, and true believer
in, his ever-shrinking party and its racist base. Thus is he operating squarely in the
un-American tradition of the Court that gave us Bush v. Gore. (He's also following in the
footsteps on his predecessor William Rehnquist, who made his bones as an anti-democratic
activist way back in the early Sixties, when, as a lawyer for the GOP, he roamed the precincts
of South Phoenix on Election Day, trying to block minority votes.)
In short, Roberts personifies that spirit of fanatical elitism whereby the Bush Regime, and
its bad works, were forced on all the rest of us. Small wonder, then, that Roberts couldn't make
his tongue behave as he stood out there yesterday, half-trying to suppress his rage sufficiently
to swear Obama in. And so he screwed it up, because his heart just wasn't in what he was
saying--just like Bush, whose tongue broke down whenever he was forced to sound a
note of altruism or idealism or inclusiveness, or any other alien notion.
And this won't be the last time that we hear the voice of Bush (or Cheney) piping up in
unexpected places. Much depends on whether our new president will be polite, and let
it resonate, or whether he will shut it down at last, and try instead to say--and do--
CNN: Roberts 'screwed up' oath of office
Mike Sheehan and David Edwards
Published: Tuesday January 20, 2009
The oath of office of the President of the United States is perhaps the most hallowed tradition in American politics. It marks the end of an intense election process, the peaceful transition of power, and perhaps even the rise of a new generation.
But today, it was a bungle of supreme proportion.
According to the Constitution, the oath is specified as follows: "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." Modern tradition has added "so help me God" to the end of the oath.
John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, had the honor today of administering the oath to Barack Obama with a Bible used by Abraham Lincoln.
But instead of a smooth delivery, Chief Justice Roberts interrupted Obama early and then switched the order of some of the words, slipping up the new president and causing him to hesitate at one point.
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 execute the office of president to the United States faithfully...
OBAMA: ...that I will execute... [pause]
ROBERTS: ...faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ...the office of president of the United States faithfully...
ROBERTS: ...and will, to 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.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer later commented that Roberts "had one job to do today and he sort of screwed up."
By law, Obama became president at noon Eastern, regardless of the ceremonial oath of office. But that didn't stop some from speculating and others from kidding.
Chris Wallace of FOX News wondered if, due to the fumbled oath, Obama really was president.
Martin Bosworth of the Boztopia blog quipped, "When you think about how Clarence Thomas tried to derail the changeover by having the Court hear the birth certificate case, you have to wonder."
Mark Sherman of The Associated Press later reported that Roberts, shaking hands with the new president before a special luncheon in the Capitol, "chatted briefly with Obama and appeared to say that the mistake was his fault, not Obama's."
This video is from CNN's Newsroom, broadcast Jan. 20, 2009.