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Do you have to get it right first time round?

barak-obamaIn an unprecedented move (and how many times have we heard that expression before in relation to the new American president) Barack Obama has taken the Oath of Allegiance for a second time.  The same officer, one Chief Justice John Roberts, re-administered the Oath to the President in an informal ceremony in front of just seven staff and four journalists in the Map room in the White House. 


The reason?  In the first official swearing, poor old Barack stumbled over the first two lines, but I don’t blame him, I blame the Chief Justice.


If you recall, first time round, Obama seemed to forgot the lines and had to be prompted again.  Which wouldn’t be surprising since Roberts spewed off about 20 words in a complicated couple of sentences with jumbled pauses and spoke over Obama as he started the vow.  At the time, I wondered how he would repeat it all.  And of course the answer is that he couldn’t.


It’s not as though Obama is a stupid man, an accusation that is not commonly levelled at him unlike his predecessor.  It’s not that the sentences would not have been unfamiliar to him.  But its like wedding vows, despite their utter familiarity, it is possible to get it wrong, very wrong.


Consider one of the most famous wedding vows shared last century between Charles and Diana.  She promised to love, honour and obey ‘Philip, Charles, Arthur, George’ only that was his father’s name, while he promised that ‘all thy goods with thee I share’, very generous of you, mate!


So, back to Obama.  While the oath would have been very familiar, and I’m sure well rehearsed, the way Roberts inappropriately placed pauses in the sentences threw him off.   And then to make matters worse, Roberts moved around the sentence, so that the word ‘faithfully’ was at the end of the sentence and not nearer the beginning as it should. Obama realising Roberts’ mistake paused and waited for Roberts to correct it, many of those watching took this as Obama forgetting the lines but he was just waiting for the Chief Justice to correct himself. Instead the Chief spewed out the line again and also included the correction. No wonder, Obama wanted to do it again, without cameras, with the correct words and with correct breaks in the sentences.  However without a bible, for none could be found in the White House in time.


Is he covered?  We hope so.  Though, in an unprecedented move, the crowds at his inauguration were not the highest ever.  The president to claim that honour was Ronald Regan who claimed 41.8million ahead of the 37.8 who watched on Tuesday, January 15.

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