Oath of Office

Today, Barack Obama took the Oath of Office of the President of the United States (with some flubs in the prompts by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts), one of the most happily anticipated Inaugurations since John F. Kennedy's "Camelot" presidency of 1961.

The oath's wording is prescribed by the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8):

"I 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."

Contrary to popular belief, "So help me God" is not part of the oath.

There was a little-known humorous event from Kennedy's Inauguration. Kennedy had beaten then-vice-president Richard Nixon by a very slim margin.

After Kennedy's speech, Nixon ran into Ted Sorensen, Kennedy's speech writer, and told him, "I wish I had said some of those things."

"What part?" Sorensen asked. "The part about 'ask what your country can do for you'?"

"No," Nixon said. "The part that starts, 'I do solemnly swear'...."

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Source: Presidential Trivia: The Feats, Fates, Families, Foibles And Firsts of Our American Presidents, by Richard Lederer, 2007, p104 (Amazon)

Posted January 20, 2009

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