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Obama retakes oath of office

  1. Jan 22, 2009 #1
    Of course this is an emotionally charged issue, but I was wondering if the incoming President was already legally in office at 12 noon that day or was the wording of the oath really as important as to need take it again please?
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/21/obama.oath/index.html
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2009 #2

    BobG

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    I don't think misplacing one adjective really required retaking the oath. Did it change the meaning of what he said?

    A little is based on precedent. Chester Arthur and Calvin Coolidge retook the oath for similar reasons. (Actually, Coolidge's first oath was in question because it was administered by his father, a notary public, instead of by a judge). Both of their oaths also occurred in the middle of the night with little preparation due to being VP when the President died.

    Arthur and Coolidge oath blunders became nothing more than extremely obscure trivia. Of course, they served before TV news and bloggers.

    Pierce "affirmed" he would faithfully execute the office of President instead of swore and Hoover (not Taft, who was the Chief Justice, even though Taft was President at one time) swore to "preserve, maintain, and defend" the Constitution instead of "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution. Neither of them retook the oath (in fact, I think "affirm" is an approved substitute for "swear"). Inserting the President's name is optional, as well, and just gives the Chief Justice another chance to make a mistake like calling Harry S. Truman "Harry Shipp Truman". Fortunately, Truman was able to say his own name correctly and hardly anyone noticed Justice Stone's blunder.

    The worst inauguration blunder still probably belongs to Nixon's 1973 inauguration. To reduce the chances of pigeons raining on their parade, they sprayed a chemical repellent on the trees that would discourage the pigeons from roosting on them. Unfortunately, the pigeons ate the repellent and died, leaving the parade route littered with dead pigeons.

    And, just to be thorough, not taking the oath on a Bible has no impact either. While it has become an almost unbreakable tradition in later years, it wasn't unusual for earlier Presidents to use something else.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  4. Jan 22, 2009 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    One can ask all sorts of trivial questions - like was Joe Biden George Bush's vice president for half an hour? Was Nancy Pelosi the Acting President for a few minutes?

    Considering that this is a problem that takes a minute to fix, isn't it prudent to do it again no matter what?
     
  5. Jan 22, 2009 #4

    BobG

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    The answer to the first is the reason why the term of office starts and ends at noon instead of midnight. Per Chief Justice John Marshall, in 1821, the term of office started at midnight, but the President didn't have executive power until taking the oath of office. Executive power was just suspended for the approximately 12 hours between the start of the term and taking the oath. That was just his opinion instead of an official ruling, however.

    Biden definitely wasn't Bush's VP since the terms of office don't overlap. The only real question is whether Nancy Pelosi was acting President for a few minutes. Reading a post by mheslep in another thread, Pelosi couldn't have the executive power of the President until she took the oath of office. Since Biden was already sworn in as VP, he would be the logical successor instead of Pelosi, anyway, but even he didn't have Presidential power since he didn't take the President's oath of office. No one had executive power until someone took the President's oath of office.

    If Obama didn't have executive power until he took the oath of office correctly, then the bigger question is whether anything Obama signed on the first day official? If not, then Hoover's entire Presidency was meaningless and I guess we'd have to rescind the Great Depression.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  6. Jan 22, 2009 #5
    I didn't mean to just shoot out any old trivial question. I wanted to know if this had ever been redone before with out spending hours researching.
    Because if he was the first to do so I would have more to think about than the nothing I am currently going to think about it.
    I very much appreciate Bob taking the time to share all this information and the pigeon story as my husband said must have been an omen.
    Thank you for the help.
     
  7. Jan 22, 2009 #6

    BobG

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    Actually, every President whose term started on a Sunday (except for one) has taken the oath twice: once privately to meet Constitutional requirements and again at the public inauguration celebration. Obviously, those aren't considered the same since, pesumably, the private oath was done correctly?

    Zachary Taylor was the only 'Sunday President' to wait until his inauguration ceremony to take the oath of office.
     
  8. Jan 22, 2009 #7
    Very, very interesting. Thank you for the education. Have to admit I posted in the first place thinking perhaps this President was being excessive for some reason and I thought to ask here on PF. But it has been very interesting to find out about the other President's too. Thank you again. Really
     
  9. Jan 22, 2009 #8

    CRGreathouse

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    My opinion (as an amateur) is that Obama was president at 12:03 when he took the oath the first time, despite the slip in wording.
     
  10. Jan 22, 2009 #9
    CNN
    Why go to the trouble of dotting the i's if you're not going to cross the t's?
     
  11. Jan 22, 2009 #10

    LowlyPion

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    I agree. The substantial meaning of the oath was administered and attested to, by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in front of what could not likely have been many more witnesses, without articulated objection, even from Republicans. Since the issue would undoubtedly become an issue for the Supreme Court however it might arise, the Chief Justice would have ample first hand evidence as to the intent of the individuals involved and compliance with the Law.

    It seems that Obama handled it all with good humor.
     
  12. Jan 22, 2009 #11

    LowlyPion

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    To meet Constitutional requirements, no Bible is required.
    To retrieve the Lincoln Bible again from the National Archives, or to have used a different Bible would maybe have created more of a smudge in the erasure than just fulfilling the technical requirements of the language.
     
  13. Jan 22, 2009 #12
    But they didn't even think the reoathing was required. They just did it to dot the i's. During the campaign, the crazies said he would take the oath on a Koran. What will they make of this? Do we need the aggravation?
     
  14. Jan 22, 2009 #13

    BobG

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    Heck, Johnson used one of the missals from a Catholic mass.

    I can just imagine the panicked conversation when someone on Air Force One asked, "Don't we need a Bible?"

    And no one on the plane knew; and they couldn't find one anyway .......

    And, "Here! Here's something from a church! I found it on a table in the bedroom! Will that do?"

    "Great! Let's get started. Uh, anybody know the words?"

    "Uh, they're not in the book?"

    "Uh, probably not. You handed me a Catholic missal."

    (Jack Valenti, a political consultant, was the guy that had to track down the Presidential Oath. I don't think he ever explained how or where he came up with the Presidential Oath. Somehow, they managed to get it right - Johnson oath of office)
     
  15. Jan 22, 2009 #14

    LowlyPion

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    One presumes there were radios in those days.
     
  16. Jan 22, 2009 #15

    turbo

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    Radios on planes in the 1960's? Easier than towing a telegraph wire, I guess.

    As for the re-taking of the oath, with all the crazies questioning Obama's citizenship, it was probably considered best to take a "belt and suspenders" approach to the swearing-in, to stave off any incipient looniness. As for the use of a bible (or not), if someone takes a solemn oath to execute the duties of high office, his or her word should be enough, printed matter notwithstanding.
     
  17. Jan 22, 2009 #16

    russ_watters

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    I'm a little surprised he bothered to retake the oath. Having already been sued for (allegedly) not being a US citizen, I don't think Obama should care much about some random crazy suing him over this.
     
  18. Jan 22, 2009 #17

    CRGreathouse

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    I think it's prudent. It nips that sort of talk in the bud.
     
  19. Jan 22, 2009 #18

    LowlyPion

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    It's not like the NeoCon bloggers won't have plenty of other things to be knotting their panties over, as Obama sets out to undo the past 8 years of the faithless efforts to impose conservative ideologies and beliefs on their fellow Americans.
     
  20. Jan 22, 2009 #19
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2009
  21. Jan 22, 2009 #20

    russ_watters

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    Apparently not. I was just flipping through my tv and caught a little of a press conference with Obama's press secretary. A reporter noted that while he retook the oath, he did not re-issue the executive orders he issued during the day. That's a contradiction and it creates an opening for nuts.

    It is never a good idea to kowtow to the lunatic fringe. Playing their game just brings you down to their level and you get covered in mud either way. It's easier (and propper) to defend an unnecessary action not taken than to create a new issue that requires you to defend an unnecessary action taken (why do it if it isn't necessary?).
     
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