It was his big moment in the sun; his 15 minutes of fame. The stage was set. The eyes of the entire world were on him.
And he pulled a “Bill Buckner.”
Poor John Roberts.
In the midst of all the hoopla of Obama’s first day as President, all that separated Obama and the highest office in the land was the swearing in ceremony – performed by none other than Chief Justice John Roberts.
No doubt Roberts had practiced in the mirror and went through the ceremony in his head a thousand times. No doubt he’s been through high-profile events in his life before. So what happened next was a bit unexpected (thanks to the New York Times for the transcript):
Chief Justice Roberts prompted Mr. Obama with these words: “that I will execute the office of the president to the United States faithfully.” The chief justice seemed to say “to” rather than “of,” but that was not the main problem. The main problem was that the word “faithfully” had floated upstream in the constitutional text, which actually says this: “That I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States.”
Mr. Obama seemed to realize this, pausing quizzically after saying “that I will execute –”
The chief justice gave it another go, getting closer but still not quite right: “faithfully the office of president of the United States.” This time, he omitted the word “execute.”
Mr. Obama now repeated the chief justice’s initial error of putting “faithfully” at the end of the phrase. Starting where he had abruptly paused, he said: “the office of the president of the United States faithfully.”
It was smooth sailing from there. All of the words in the oath were uttered, along with “so help me God” at the end.
At the end of the swearing in, it was undoubtedly Chief Justice Roberts that was ready to swear. I feel for him.