Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Risible Roberts

Can someone explain to me why the Chief Justice articulated the last phrase of the oath as an aggressive questions? He said, with a hint of the schoolmarm, "So help you God?" It was almost as if he was daring Obama to say no.

I've reviewed previous inaugurations via YouTube and found the following:


Bush 2005 (Note Rhenquist's stupid stripes) (Also note that Rhenquist, unlike Roberts, paused after the president's name, and also broke the oath up into shorter, and easier to repeat bits.)

Bush 2001 (phrasing is a little less friendly, but no angry question at the end.) (Note Gore being second to shake his hand)

Clinton 97 (this is also the first appearance of the stupid stripes) (Audio seems to be from '93)

Clinton 93 The Judge asks if he is ready. Clinton replies "I am.")

Bush 89 (Bush almost makes the same mistake Obama made, trying to jump in too early; his wife seems to laugh at him.) (no question at the end.)

Reagen 81 (also doesn't use his full name) (Berger says "I" throughout, but changes to "you" for the God part at the end. It isn't articulated as a question.)

Carter 1977 (Chief's delivery is neutral, with no question at the end) ((Carter, strangely, doesn't use his full name.)

Ford 1974 (As with Roberts, the chief here first asks if the president-elect is "ready to take the oath" Ford says "I am, sir" whereas Obama said only "I am." No question at the end.)

Nixon (The judge says "you." )(The bible is open) this is also the first time I hear the fanfare afterwards.)

Johnson 1964 (This Chief (was it Warren?) says his part in the second person (i.e. "You Lyndon Bains Johnson"and "that you with faithfully execute.") The last bit is likewise in the second person ("So help you God.") but not phrased as a question.

Johnson 1963 (No obnoxious question, everything is "I" and "me" not "you") (This oath was administered on the runway at Dallas, and not by the Chief Justice.)

Kennedy 61 (Again the Justice says "you" throughout, and the last part isn't a question.)
Eisenhower (As seems to be his practice, Justice Warren says "you" throughout, but the last part isn't a question."

I also found this montage of every president since FDR reciting the oath. FDR did it 1933, I see, with no prompting from a justice. It sounds like the "you" went out of style with Ford.

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