Obama retakes oath of office… slowly

US President Barack Obama has retaken the oath of office after stumbling when he was originally sworn in at his inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.


In a highly unusual move caused by Chief Justice John Roberts stumbling over the words the first time around, the new US leader recited the oath a second time.

“Are you ready to take the oath?” Roberts asked him ahead of the replay, which took place in the Map Room of the White House on Wednesday.

“I am, and we\’re going to do it very slowly,” Obama said, reciting the oath flawlessly in 25 seconds.

“We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday,” said White House Counsel Greg Craig.

“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 Roberts administered the oath a second time.”

Oath wording confused

Obama is not alone in retaking the oath – both Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) and Chester Arthur (1881-1885) retook the pledge privately after the official inauguration.

The new US president was first sworn in by Roberts on Tuesday, resting his left hand on Abraham Lincoln\’s Bible and raising his right hand to deliver the words that made him the official successor to George W Bush.

But things didn\’t go exactly as planned for the swearing-in of the country\’s first African-American commander-in-chief.

Under the gaze of more than two million crowded onto Washington\’s National Mall and millions more around the world, Obama said: “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of president of the United States faithfully, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.

“So help me God.”

As specified in the US Constitution, the word “faithfully” precedes the phrase “execute the office,” but the chief justice, in his first presidential inauguration, read that part of the oath incorrectly.

\’No impact\’ on presidency

Obama paused, apparently realizing something was wrong, and after an awkward moment, Roberts repeated himself, but the chief justice stumbled again.

Obama eventually recited the line as Roberts originally said it.

On Tuesday, Jeffrey Rosen, a US constitutional law expert and professor at George Washington University in Washington, said stumbling over the oath had “no impact. News flash: He\’s president.”

Rosen pointed to the 20th amendment of the US Consitution, which provides that the president and vice president\’s term begins at noon on January 20th – regardless of when the oath is taken.

“Lots of people have flubbed the oath, perhaps most memorably Chief Justice (William Howard) Taft, who sort of riffed and then made up his own” upon swearing in then-president Herbert Hoover, said Rosen.

Where the oath calls for the president to pledge to “preserve, protect, and defend” the constitution, Taft said “preserve, maintain and defend” — injecting an entirely new word, while Roberts merely got the order wrong.