Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do over?

How far can you stray from protocol and still be legal?? The big argument the last two days is whether Obama and Roberts should have a oath of office "do over." With millions crowding the mall and 10s of millions of more watching on TV for the historic swearing in of our first president of African-American descent and with only 38 words to memorize and over 3 years and 3 months to memorize it (He was confirmed on September 29, 2005), Chief Justice John Roberts, and young man of only 53 (soon to be 54 on my birthday) flubbed, botched, butchered, hacked, bumbled, fumbled, muffed, mutilated, and annihalated the oath.

Way to go John!

Like a nervous bridesgroom forgetting his vows on the most important day of his life, Roberts apparently spoke too much initially, going past Obama's name, causing Obama, who was likely following the rehearsed script to begin his recitation prematurely. After Barack bit off his sentence, giving Roberts a "What the hell are you doing" look beneath his big, charismatic smile, he retreated to careful listener as he now nervously awaiting for the prospectively tangled verbage he was going to have to begrudgingly reproduce.
It only got worse from there. Roberts, obviously flustered now, took the literary liberty to move a simple adverb, "faithfully", to an acceptable, though not prescribed, place in the sentence.

What should have been:
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.
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will 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. [Please don't hate me Obama for screwing up this historic moment for you. I'm really sorry for that. Afterall, I was appointed by President Bush. It's hard for a new, young guy like be to be the boss of all the other Justices. In fact, they still tease me and don't take me very seriously. I guess be messing this whole thing up proves why. I'm going to go into the White House bathroom and cry, faithfully hiding my face in eternal shame.]

Note: italicized parts spoke as an aside, under his breath, as in a Shakespearean Play, meant only to be heard by the audience and not the people on stage. This only further complicated the isssue as Obama was squinting and struggling to make out what Roberts was trying to say.

Caught between the decision of now saying the very words Edwards spoke . . . err . . . that's Roberts spoke, and saying the oath incorrectly, probably unbeknowst to most of the masses in attendance and risking an "unofficial" swearing in, or disrupting the flow of the moment to shoot another "Go to Hell you incompetent Fool" look and awkardly trying again (at the risk of it looking like Obama himself having a HORRIBLE short-term memory), Barack chose the former.

At this point, the viewers at home were checking their clocks and calenders to verify that they were not tuned in too early only to be watching the dress rehearsal of the monumentous event.

Nope. It was the real thing, and Roberts was beginning to sweat.

With a quivering voice, he repeated the phrase with the word "faithfully" correctly positioned. Barack, in his first real display of Executive power then decided to repeat the words the way Roberts INITIALLY has spoken. That is, he said them incorrectly!

I doubt the unflappable Obama himself was flustered, afterall, he had his hand on the Lincoln Bible. So his actions must have been a deliberate, intellectually subtle, effrontery to the inept Justice.

The rest of the day, though, went smoothly, if you don't count two Senators keeling over during the Post-Inaguration Banquent (how many of you thought Ted Kennedy was just celebrating too hard???), and Obama and his wife made it to all 10 inagural balls, including the " Ball."

I'd sure hate to be in his shoes. Not only are the expectations immense, but his feet must be killing him!

So was the inauguration official? legal? Well, it turns out that some former Presidents with limited capacity to remember a string to 5 words (or in US Grant's case, have been severly intoxicated at the time), have been simply read the entire oath, to which they simply replied "I do" (or in Grant's case, "Hell Yeah!")

If all those presidencies are officially in the books, then I'm sure there's no need for a do-over in Obama's case.

As a math teacher, though, I HAVE to dwell on the little thins. Rules and order are imperative in my class. Mathematics, as well as the rules of grammar, cannot be applied arbitrarily, capaciously, or willy-nilly. Little things like misplaced grouping symbols, negative signs, or the extremely rare adverb DO cause entire calculations to fail.

I'm glad Obama didn't run on "Building a Bridge to Tommorow" platform, because in bridge building, a misplaced adverb can cause the entire bridge to collapse.


Anonymous said...

The oath was retaken on Wednesday evening just to make sure it was all legal.

kwkorpi said...

True, but now they're questioning the do over since they didn't have a Bible.

It doesn't matter anyway, since the most recent allegations are that he really wasn't born in the US and only recently produced a suspicious birth certificate.

What's next?

Are they going to claim he's actually as old as he looks (25)?