I hate the very existence of inaugural poetry. Despite all the pomp and preening involved with inaugurations, it’s that which I find over-indulgent. Maybe I just can’t consider poetry beyond proto-goths dressed all in black sitting in the back of a classroom feeling so tortuously misunderstood. Obviously on some level I know that poetry is used for other things, but I swear I have difficulty ever reading poetry that doesn’t say “Hey, look at me!” or “Hey, look at me look {nature/life/God/Mother Earth/whatever}!”

I didn’t get to watch the inauguration as I was stuck in traffic when it happened, though I will shortly have the whole thing downloaded.

Mindstorm made a pretty big to-do about it. Employees (in our building, at least) were invited to watch the swearing in and speech on the TVs in the cafeteria.

I thought that it was interesting that John Paul Stevens swore in the Vice President. I figured that the VP was sworn in by the Chief Justice, too. Apparently there’s quite a bit of discretion and that they don’t even have to be sworn in by a judge (Mondale and Cheney were sworn in by the Speaker of the House, Gore and George H. Bush by associate justices). I learned something new today!

It’s rather unfortunate that the special occasions was flubbed by the Chief Justice during the oath, which caught the now-president off-guard. Took them a minute or two to get their act together, but I suppose it’s forgivable since not only is it both of their first time, but as recently as five years ago it was exceptionally unlikely that either of them would be holding the positions that they now do.

The conspiracy-mongering among liberals that Roberts screwed up on purpose so that conservatives will be able to delegitimize Obama’s presidency (“He never took the oath!”) are kind of funny. As are murmurs on the right that it is somehow “revealing” that Obama took the oath with his middle name (“Such things are unheard of if you look back at and only at Jimmy Carter!”).

It took me quite a bit of time to find a picture of Obama taking the oath that didn’t prominantly feature Roberts’s bald crown but had no luck. Roberts needs to take some Rogaine. He’s the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It’s not like anybody can badmouth him for it. Of course, perhaps being Chief Justice means that you don’t have to worry about Rogaine in the same way that being old means that you can wear your pants however darn high you please.

Obama’s speech contained what I’m pretty sure is an inaccuracy less than five sentences in. Forty-three men have taken the oath, not forty-four. But surely Obama’s speechwriters and handlers would catch a mistake before I did, wouldn’t they? Did someone take the oath but never the office? I don’t see how that’s possible. Then again, they did claim to be directing the non-existent “Office of President-Elect” when no such office exists and Obama wasn’t technically even the president-elect, so maybe such details were considered unimportant.

Bush is apparently back in Texas. The whole concept of going from the most powerful man in the world to having to move out in one day seems kind of weird to me. I’m not sure how that works. Were they living out of suitcases that last week? I like to imagine that there was luggage in the back of that helicopter.

I’m sure that Half Sigma considers it suspicious that Bristol Palin’s newborn baby wasn’t at the inauguration (almost as though she doesn’t exist! Hmmmmmm…).

ADDENDUM: Roberts and Obama decided to take another shot at it, just to be cautious. No doubt Lincoln’s Bible had been put away, but odd that they wouldn’t go to the slight inconvenience of finding another one. Did the Bushes not leave behind any? Why have the Gideons let us down? Now we get four years of some people saying “See! He didn’t take the oath on the Bible after all! Just like we said he wouldn’t!”

-{Note that while this is about a political event, I tried not to take sides. Leave comments with care.}-

Category: Statehouse

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12 Responses to Random Observations On the Inauguration

  1. Brandon Berg says:

    I assume the error is due to double-counting of Cleveland.

  2. kevin says:

    I, frankly, was stunned by Roberts’ bungling of the oath of office. I also thought it was a bit ridiculous that he did not break it down more. The easier way to do it would be, “I, Barack Hussein Obama,” wait for Obama to repeat that, and then proceed with the rest of the oath, not “I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute…”

    I am a lawyer, and I got to attend oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on a case I’d worked on. (I did not argue it, just sat at counsel table). I found Roberts to be rather obnoxious, both in the snide questions he asked of counsel and his imperious demeanor. The Chief Justice position has really gone to his head. Scalia, on the other hand, was very likeable – charming, funny, respectful, not at all what I expected.

  3. trumwill says:

    Brandon, yeah, that’s what I suspect happened. Obama and/or his speechwriters assumed that because he is the 44th president that he is the 44th man to become president. Which would be true were it not for Cleveland. The sentenced jumped out at me as being incorrect, though. I’m really surprised that it didn’t jump out to a single person.

  4. trumwill says:


    It’s not just the easier way, it’s the right way. Or the traditional way that it’s always been done. Insert joke here about Roberts and precedent. That’s why I think it was mostly a matter of his being nervous. He kind of kept going the same way that some people start rambling on when speaking in front of large crowds. Of course, Roberts I’m sure is used to speaking in front of large crowds, but this was a very large crowd.

  5. Barry says:

    Would it have killed Obama and Roberts to get together for five minutes that morning (and Biden and Stevens) and just run quickly through the oath and who says what when? I mean, when we get married we have a whole rehearsal for that the day before the wedding 🙂

    I remember thinking as I watched Biden take the oath, that if it were me I’d be practicing in front of a mirror for days prior, to make sure I didn’t screw it up and become Prime Minister of Botswana by accident or something.

    I thought Rick Warren’s prayer was fantastic. I never realized how much he resembled Tim Russert. People, you don’t clap during a prayer!!! Sheesh.

    The other gentleman who did the benediction was good and the rhyming bit I think was a signature style of his. I’d like to hear him preach a sermon…

    The arrangement of God Bless America was wonderful, but Aretha’s a soul singer, not a concert soloist and it showed. I couldn’t understand the words to the other verses.

    The “Simple Gifts” quartet was beautiful. I wish my kids had stopped talking to me while I was listening, I couldn’t hear the whole thing.

    And yes, the whole concept of poetry is lost on me. I tried to follow her train of thought and when it was over I just went, “huh?” Miya Angelou at Clinton’s 1st Inauguration was great, though: “Good morning!”

  6. Peter says:

    I remember thinking as I watched Biden take the oath, that if it were me I’d be practicing in front of a mirror for days prior, to make sure I didn’t screw it up and become Prime Minister of Botswana by accident or something.

    That might not be a totally bad thing … he’d be in charge of much of the world’s diamonds, as compared to doing whatever a Vice President actually does.

  7. Becky says:

    I also thought the poetry seemed a bit out of place (but then again, I tend to get bored with it anyway unless I read it). It also struck me as a little odd as how rushed out the out-going president is and the moving trucks are at The White House that day and clear all the stuff out/in. It does seem to be a bit abrupt, but I couldn’t really think of another way to do it.

  8. Webmaster says:

    Not to take sides, but something I have a hard time not mentioning:

    – In 2005, the left were screaming about the “Exorbitant” $42M that was spent on Bush’s second inauguration, with lines like “$42M wasted while army doesn’t have humvee armor” (armor they didn’t want, because it weighed the humvees down so much that they couldn’t travel reliably on sandy terrain).

    – In 2009, we’re regaled about how Obama’s inauguration “only” cost $170 Million. And nothing is ever mentioned about the fact that the same bozos crowing about how “historic” it was, and fawning all over the place about how it was wonderful, begrudged Bush less than 1/5 of that amount.

    I for one am somewhat appalled we wasted that kind of money on anyone’s inauguration, whether it be Obama or anyone else.

  9. trumwill says:

    I’m sure that Obama, at least, did rehearse. Probably quite a bit. I think that’s why he jumped the gun and said “I, Barack Hussein Obama…” when Roberts didn’t stop. Because he rehearsed it the way it is typically done, which Roberts deviated from.

    I can’t think of a better way, either.

  10. trumwill says:


    I haven’t heard anybody say that the inauguration “only” cost that much. To the extent I’ve heard the figure, it’s mostly been “Wow, this is going to be a big party!” and a few complaints about cost. There is a natural double standard when it comes to people that we are predisposed to like and those we are predisposed not to. We save our outrage for people we already dislike. As such, it’s not surprising that liberals would be outraged by one but not the other. It’s good to point out these discrepencies, though it’s important not to pretend that it is something unique to our opponents.

    For my part, complaints in 2005 came across as a rather pathetic case of sour grapes and I can’t say that I’m any more impressed with some Republicans this year (except insofar as more of the complaints are aimed at the double standard rather than the final tab). The inauguration is a public affair. A celebration of American democracy. To me it is not about Obama, nor was it about Bush in 2005. It’s a celebration of our country and our system of governance. Obviously, some people are feeling a little more celebratory than others, but they’ll get their turn soon enough.

    This election, naturally, carries particular historical importance. And in that vein, the additional security and arrangements for the sharp uptick of interest this time around, a larger bill is to be expected. Four times larger? Maybe not so much. If we’re worried about spending a couple hundred million dollars every four years, that should be done with an eye towards the next time around. Not taking potshots this one (or the previous one).

  11. Sheila Tone says:

    Where have you been? No one does Rogaine any more. If Roberts wanted to be hip, he’d shave his head.

  12. trumwill says:

    I think it’s a mistake for people Roberts’s age to try to be hip. If he were half is age I might recommend that, though. Or if he were going bald from the front. At that point it wouldn’t be hip, just necessary.

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