OUR OPINION: One small goof, and a giant step for the nation

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The nation has a new president and even though the Obama administration started with a supreme flub, we cannot help but feel the air of positiveness that, at least for now, reigns over the land.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and President Barack Obama had to recite the oath of office ritual after Roberts interchanged a word during his administration of Barack Obama’s oath of office.

A president is bound by the Constitution to say, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the Unite States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Roberts said the word “faithfully” in the wrong place before a televised audience of over 37 million people, causing Obama to be out of sync repeating the oath. On television we could see something was amiss, but did not know if the incoming president or the Chief Justice had caused the awkwardness.

Both men had to be pretty embarrassed by the presidential stumble out of the starting gate. Some us even wondered if tension between the two men may have caused the problem. Obama as a US Senator voted against Roberts’ confirmation to the high court, and the political views of the two giants in American government are certainly on opposite ends of the spectrum.

In an event that the White House later said “was an abundance of caution,” Roberts came to the White House and readminstered the oath before a small audience of reporters and a tape recorder.  Just to make sure everything was nice and legal.

It turns out that two other presidents have had to retake the oath before, Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur. Coolidge was a man of notoriously few words. We imagine he was probably chagrined at having to repeat something he had already said.

What we take out of the Roberts/Obama repeat performance is that despite the high level of embarrassment for all concerned, the snafu did not turn into a finger pointing exercise.

Obama joked about the second oath recital saying they decided the swearing in was so much fun they decided to do it again.

Roberts reportedly smiled after the second administering of the oath and said, “Congratulations, again.”

We like to think both men fully understand the nation has a full plate of agenda items that will take the best service each of them can offer their country. Perhaps the little stumble in public gave each man a bit of insight into the other’s character, and, hopefully, that insight was positive.

It was a small flub before a huge audience, no harm done and no finger pointing necessary.

Now the work begins.