Am I the only one feeling the first day of the Obama Administration was a series of botched moments?  Sure, the evening ended well with a deep expression of love between man and wife, but the entirety of the day begged for greatness but only promised the ordinary.

The botching began with Obama’s swearing in — and one can’t help but wonder if White Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts intentionally ruined the swearing in of the first Black President so the moment could not be re-played again and again in history as a final favor to the fanatical Bushites who put him in power — Roberts and Obama stumbled over each other even though they were strangely standing worlds apart on stage:

There is no such thing as a coincidence, and it didn’t take long for the conservative wolfpack media to leap at Obama’s throat to claim he was not actually President because he was not legally “sworn in” —

On Fox News, Chris Wallace just speculated that President Obama might still legally be regular ol’ Barack Obama, because his botched oath doesn’t count.

Wallace was referring to the one slip in today’s otherwise flawless ceremonies, which came at the most important moment: Chief Justice John Roberts said and President Obama repeated back to him: “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully.” The oath’s actual line (which is in the Constitution) goes, “I [Barack Hussein Obama] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States.”

The most interesting botching of the day was the mainstream media’s outrageous, indignant, contempt — not for Bush, but for those in the audience of two million who loudly booed him — and the commentators could not wait to condemn the joyous singing and slaying chants directed at a president who did not serve their bests interests, or the higher morality of our country, over the last, miserable, eight years.

The NBC networks actually lowered the crowd noise to drown out the verbal rebellion while CNN let the overwhelming emotion of the crowd place the final, justified, pockmarks on the Bush Administration.

If we accept the complicity in the mainstream media’s acquiescence to Bush’s unlawful reign, then we must concede the major media’s need to brand the public square lambasting of Bush as “immature” and “uncalled for” and “un-American” because they are just as guilty as he. 

One MSNBC commentator actually said this morning that the crowd should have “stood up and applauded” Bush as he descended the stairs for Obama’s swearing in — what that unwise commentator failed to understand and honor was the viral emotion of democracy in action:  We can legitimately protest what we do not like; we are free verbally to punish those who have punished us — and we do it all in public, in the bright sunlight and all in utter spite of Bush’s best effort to silence and persecute dissent in America. 

The crowd’s reaction to Bush was instinctual, organic, necessary, and admirable — and the fact that not a single person was arrested out of the two million attending — speaks directly to the amicable process of righteous protest in America.

The next botching was Obama’s speech.  I thought it was middling, cliché-filled and terribly ordinary.  Where was the poetry?  Where were the higher thoughts and a call for a better, more sophisticated set of values and morality?  What we got instead was a lecture, a non-discrete and tasteless Bush bashing, and a lowering of expectation.  You could feel the disappointment in the crowd of two million, who all appeared to be expecting something much more from the promises coveted on the campaign trail across the last two years. 

Of course, the middling, mainstream, media loved the Obama speech and called it an “instant classic” and one for “all of America.”  We have learned to expect nothing more from the lesser media, especially when it comes to divining purpose and the percolation of genius.

Perhaps if Obama had written his own speech — instead of turning over the worldly task to a 27-year-old kid who wrote it at a Starbucks — we would’ve been better served.

One thing that was not botched on the day was the guttural reaction to Bush’s escape.  He leapt onto his helicopter and disappeared into Midland, Texas where we hope he, and his royal family, will forever hide in shame as they all relax in that rich suburb instead of preening on his stage-ready, crafty, “ranch” in Crawford.

Maureen Dowd, a native of D.C. sensed the absolute jubilation in the air:

I’ve seen many presidents come and go, but I’ve never watched a tableau like the one Tuesday, when four million eyes turned heavenward, following the helicopter’s path out of town. Everyone, it seemed, was waving goodbye, with one or two hands, a wave that moved westward down the Mall toward the Lincoln Memorial, and keeping their eyes fixed unwaveringly on that green bird.

They wanted to make absolutely, positively certain that W. was gone.

Garrison Keillor also memorialized our second, national, visceral, emancipation:

But the great moment came later, as the mob flowed slowly across the grounds. I heard loud cheers behind me and there on the giant screen was the Former Occupant and Mrs. Bush saying goodbye to the Obamas in the parking lot behind the Capitol, the Marine helicopter behind them.

The crowd stopped and stared, a little stunned at the reality of it.

They saw it on a screen in front of the Capitol and it was actually happening on the other side. The Bushes went up the stairs, turned, waved and disappeared into the cabin, and people started to cheer in earnest. When the blades started turning, the cheering got louder, and when the chopper lifted up above the Capitol and we saw it in the sky heading for the airport, a million jubilant people waved and hollered for all they were worth. It was the most genuine, spontaneous, universal moment of the day. It was like watching the ice go out on the river.

Bush is gone.

Barack is back.

Let’s hope yesterday is the end of the beginning of the big botching.


  1. And so it begins:

    Barack Obama is the 44th president of the United States.
    Or is he?
    Other readers had the same question. Rick Lohmeyer of Broomfield, Colo., asks, “Would it be necessary for President Obama to repeat the oath of office in private with the correct words?” Jennifer Loustau of West Grove, Pa., wondered the same thing.
    Well, guys, you’re not alone. Jonathan Turley, the famed legal scholar, says we may have a problem.

  2. Do we need a “do-over?”

    It is academic to argue about what the failure to utter the words in the precise order required by the Constitution means. Who would have standing to raise the argument that Mr. Obama had not become president as a consequence?
    There is, in any event, no rule against a do-over. When questions were raised about whether Calvin Coolidge, in 1923 after Warren G. Harding died, should have been sworn in by his father, a notary public, he took the oath again from a federal judge.

  3. In Jewish law there are many instances where saying one thing has legal significance but saying it in a different order has no significance whatsoever. I think if they have to have him say it again they should just get it done and let him move on to doing what he needs to do as President. 🙂

  4. Under that premise I was not legally married the first time – so did not have to pay all that money to get divorced – can I have a refund please!
    I felt his speech was pragmatic and realistic – I wish we had more of that realism over here. It was not one of his oratory classics – but given the circumstances in both the USA and the world – I think he had to steer a practical course rather than one of oratory brilliance that could be attacked as flights of fancy – or empty promises.
    I can however understand the disappointment of those who were expecting one of his great speeches.
    It is the first presidential inauguration I have watched – I shall probably remember the cheers as the Bushes left more than anything else.

  5. Gordon —
    I agree this is noise about nothing. If this issue gets pressed, and it won’t, it will go to the Supreme Court where the Chief Justice will affirm, “I swore him in just fine, he’s president.” The rightwingnuts know this and they’re just trying to cause trouble.
    I do think the moment was effectively ruined for history, though. I am in favor of an audio-only re-do that can be used in future efforts to preserve the honorable record. We’d leave the original video and audio and make it clear the “audio re-enactment” was done for posterity.

  6. Nicola!
    Love your marriage story! Harr! Right on point!
    Oh, I agree the speech was pragmatic and pedantic. I just think the moment deserved more emotion and more celebration of the process. A lot of people camped out overnight and stood in line for hours to listen to him and he gave them wonkiness and government when they showed up to cheer and dance.

  7. Gordon —
    Yesterday Obama ordered no more Gitmo trials. If he wasn’t president yesterday, on his first day when he was sworn into office, then how did he have the authority to make that mandate?

  8. Perhaps that only counts as a half day? 🙂
    If we were to redo the calendar based on his inauguration, would today be day 1 or yesterday – or could yesterday be day 0? Anno Obama 1?

  9. UPDATE:
    I feel so smart! Heh.

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama retook the oath of office at the White House on Wednesday after a blunder during Tuesday’s inauguration.
    Chief Justice John Roberts stumbled slightly over the 35-word constitutionally prescribed oath of office as he swore in Obama as the 44th president.
    I wonder if the re-do was recorded? Video? Audio only?

  10. I saw an article on CNN Money about the first 100 days of the Obama White House and I e-mailed them to ask them what they thought. I didn’t actually think they would write back but they wrote back right away, asking to be please referenced as “a spokesperson for”. This is what the spokesperson wrote: is counting Tuesday, January 20th as Barack Obama’s first
    day as President. As such, his 100th day as President will be April

    Well if that isn’t official, I don’t know what is 🙂 Straight from the spokesperson’s e-mail!

  11. That’s right, David.
    I may still e-mail CNN in the hopes that Anderson Cooper might write me back! 😛 Smile!

  12. Thanks for that link, Nicola!
    I’m glad they did a do-over an hour ago — but it’s unfortunate to have to make that sort of “history” on your first day as president.

  13. Hi David,
    I missed the inauguration as I was travelling, but I find the entire goof-up just “human”. With Obama, nothing should be stereo-typed, not even taking the oath! Look forward to a brand new beginning.

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