Nuggets of the Day, Inauguration Special

Part me gets emotional and serious around events like a historic presidential inauguration. But I also find it all totally hilarious. The media coverage surrounding the event was ridiculously American in the best possible way. Here are some quotes and nuggets from the brave men and women on the journalistic front lines:

  • "At the end of the day, I think a lot of people here, as excited as they were to see him inaugurated and take the oath of office, were so cold that they just wanted the inaugural address to end." – Jeremy Schaap, ESPN's coverage. (He went on to say there were "millions" of people in the mall.)
  • On MSNBC, weatherman Al Roker implied that Chris Matthews sensed the infamous thrill up his leg because the new president looks good without his shirt on.
  • On TV One panelist Al Sharpton lost significant street cred, in the moments before the ceremony, in mistaking Aretha Franklin for Barack Obama's mother-in-law.
  • Tomorrow's inauguration special on Oprah features the dynamite trio of Forest Whitaker, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Jon Bon Jovi. They complement each other so well!
  • Rick Warren's bizarre tonal emphasis on the names of Obama's children. Here's an excerpted clip of his pronunciation. It's like he was referring to some exotic Mexican spice. By the way I thought Warren sucked. As one commenter put it, we were all waiting for Warren to pull out a loaf of bread and feed the spectators.
  • Ross Douthat has the best serious brief analysis of Obama's inaugural address.

And then of course there was the laugh-out-loud screw-up of the oath. Dhalia Litwhick has the transcription:

The oath is supposed to go as follows:

I (name) 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.

Most presidents traditionally add the words So help me God at the end, as did Obama.

Here's how it went down today:

ROBERTS: (working without a text, and also without an overcoat): Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?

OBAMA: I am.

ROBERTS: I Barack Hussein Obama …

OBAMA: (interrupting) I Barack …

ROBERTS: Do solemnly swear …

OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear …

ROBERTS: That I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully…

OBAMA: That I will execute … (pauses, smiles, waits for Roberts to put "faithfully" in correct spot)

ROBERTS: … The off … faithfully the pres … the office of president of the United States…

OBAMA: The office of president of the United States, faithfully … (if you can't beat 'em, join 'em)

ROBERTS: And will to the best of my ability …

OBAMA: And will to [the] best of my ability …

ROBERTS: Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

OBAMA: Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS: So help you God?

OBAMA: So help me God.

ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.

3 comments on “Nuggets of the Day, Inauguration Special
  • It’s interesting. Because Obama paused after Roberts screwed up the line, it’s pretty certain that he knew immediately that Roberts had not stated the oath properly. He wanted Roberts to correct himself, and gave him an opportunity to do so, but Roberts stated the line incorrectly once again!

    At the point, Obama had to decide whether to state the line as he knew it should be stated, or follow Roberts’ mistaken line, which Obama knew was incorrect. He went for the latter, which probably was the right move, but a difficult one for someone like Obama, who I get the feeling doesn’t like to screw up things as important as his presidential oath.

    Another interpretation, though, is that he was just confused by all the confusion, and it was easier to just state the line stated by Roberts.

  • Did you see Steven Pinker’s take on the matter, “Oaf Of Office”.

    “How could a famous stickler for grammar have bungled that 35-word passage, among the best-known words in the Constitution? Conspiracy theorists and connoisseurs of Freudian slips have surmised that it was unconscious retaliation for Senator Obama’s vote against the chief justice’s confirmation in 2005. But a simpler explanation is that the wayward adverb in the passage is blowback from Chief Justice Roberts’s habit of grammatical niggling.”

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