After a day of derision and debate over the flubbed presidential oath administered to Barack Obama on Tuesday, the two principals -- Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. -- met again at the White House Wednesday night for a do-over. This time, according to a hastily gathered press pool, Roberts and Obama said the right words in the right sequence. The constitutional cloud, if there was one, has dissipated.
According to an Associated Press report, White House Counsel Gregory Craig issued this statement before the second oath on Wednesday evening: "We believe the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday. Yet the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of the abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath a second time."
Before millions of people on Tuesday, Roberts, thrown off stride by Obama's early response to his recitation of the first words of the oath, placed the word "faithfully" in the wrong part of the oath. As a result, the words spoken by Obama diverged slightly from the oath as prescribed in Article II of the Constitution. Our earlier posts on the mishap are here and here.
It was unclear tonight how the second oath came about, though early in the day Court officials indicated there were no plans for a do-over. Craig's statement suggests that the impetus may have come from the White House, probably to sweep the annoyance out of the way before it got out of hand. The New York Post today dubbed Roberts the "oaf of office."
The AP report said Obama made light of the episode tonight. When Roberts asked him if he was ready to take the oath, Obama said, "Yes, I am, and we're going to do it very slowly." After the second oath was over, Roberts said to Obama, "Congratulations, again."