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Today I called my staff and told them I expected them all to take time off work to watch President Obama get sworn in and give his inaugural address.  I then goofed off myself, not showing up at the office until almost 5 p.m., so I could watch everything on TV.  What a day of drama and beauty and hope!

A major negative was the awkwardness over the presidential oath of office, which just never gets screwed up.  It's just 35 words.  It's spelled out in the United States Constitution.  How could the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the most brilliant President in U.S. history, himself a famous constitutional law professor, have screwed that up so bad?

I have a theory.

Yeah yeah yeah. Everybody has a theory.  It's not like I'm the only one to remark on this! Wingnuts are in hog heaven, because now they have another bogus reason to claim that Obama isn't really president or something.

But a friend wrote me about this tonight, and I thought about it some more, and I'd like to present a new theory.

Forgive me if this has already been discussed. I really hit the diaries.  Here is what I found:

Diaries with "oath OR 'John Roberts'" last 24 hours (searched at 10 p.m. EST):

This leaves out several diaries that are not focused on the oath administered by Roberts (and it must have missed some diaries not using those tags, because I could SWEAR AN OATH that I saw more of these today). Note that a few of these are steenking troll diaries, with a putrid quality of their own.

The John Roberts Presidential Oath by RadicalRuss
http://www.dailykos.com/...
124 Comments and 25 Recs

Chief Justice Roberts - Oath O' Office - BUSTED! (With Poll!) by Darnell From LA
http://www.dailykos.com/...
19 Comments and 4 Recs

Who taught John Roberts to read??? by Hope Reborn
http://www.dailykos.com/...
86 Comments and 4 Recs
This diary deserves some kind of condensed minimalism award.

So Help Me God? by arodb
http://www.dailykos.com/...
50 Comments and 9 Recs.
This diary isn't about the "flub" but it's well reasoned, even though I don't agree with it. If I were preparing this as a law school casebook, I'd include this one in the questions just to confound earnest students.

Obama Stumbles, According to AP/FOX News (Updated) by PrnCaspian3
http://www.dailykos.com/...
91 Comments and 17 Recs

Obama's Trips - Lingual Lemming by JerichoJ8
http://www.dailykos.com/...
44 Comments and 1 Rec

Roberts Fucked Up The Oath, Not Obama. by Lets Elect A Progressive President In 2012
http://www.dailykos.com/...
38 Comments and 8 Recs

Dear Diary: BHO flubs oath, cranks out yeoman speech by Minute Man
http://www.dailykos.com/...
162 Comments and 3 Recs

Obama Presidential Oath Transcript by FreeStateDem
http://www.dailykos.com/...
23 Comments and 14 Recs

Roberts botched it - Transcript by TDC In Florida
http://www.dailykos.com/...
75 Comments and 22 Recs
This is a particularly good diary, I think.

And if you search on Stories, you get:

It was Roberts' f'up by kos
http://www.dailykos.com/...
502 comments

*******************

So the issue has been beat all to bloody Hell already.  I've read most of those discussions, but I must admit I haven't read every last comment.  So please forgive me if I'm far from the first person to suggest this.

But in any event, here is my take:

Roberts is a brilliant lawyer and he is, in fact, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.  You better believe he knows the text of the Constitution.

Obama is an even more brilliant lawyer, and he was a brilliant constitutional law professor for years at the University of Chicago.  You better believe HE knows the text of the Constitution.

And both of them obviously needed to think in advance about what they would be doing during that Great Moment In History.

So what the frack happened?

Did Roberts do that on purpose just to sabotage Obama?  I don't think that's plausible.  It goes against the grain of everything he has stood for his entire life as a sincere, conservative Catholic lawyer.  He might have such thoughts over a few Scotches, but he would never deliberately act on them.  Even considering his wingnut credentials, that's entirely out of the question.

So then was Obama to blame, as some wingnut blogs are undoubtedly claiming? (This is referenced in some of the diaries I linked.) Oh of course not.

So then did Roberts just screw up "accidentally"?  This seems to be the prevailing theory.  I reject it.

No, my theory is that Roberts UNCONSCIOUSLY is a racist wingnut who HATES AND FEARS everything that Obama is and stands for, but he never can bring more than a tiny haze of this fear and hatred into his conscious mind. Consciously he admires Obama, disagrees with him but respects him, cherishes the American orderly transfer of power, has tremendous respect for the office of the President, etc.

So we have the stage set with an electric conflict, with storm clouds brewing.

And thus I think:  Roberts just absolutely choked up after saying "Hussein" and he sabotaged HIMSELF, fumbling and screwing up from an overload of confusion and contradictory thoughts and feelings.

I suspect he is now ruminating about this, even this moment, and profoundly ashamed. It may go even deeper and uglier than this.

What he did was ugly. It permanently took away one of Obama's greatest moments, which is a Great Moment for all of the United States and the whole world. It permanently gave pissant wingnuts another stupid argument.

But in the long run, none of this reflects poorly on President Obama, who handled the weird situation with aplomb.

Ultimately, it makes one wonder whether Roberts has brain damage from his fall and may need to be replaced this term.

I don't think Roberts is evil.  He's a smart, basically centrist, conservative D.C. lawyer.  But I think he's a malign influence in his current position, with his slavish sucking up to Power.

As a final thought, I hope President Obama does not just get to replace a couple of the liberal Supreme Court justices who are extremely old or ill, such as Stephens and Ginsberg.  I hope he gets to replace most of them.

Pray for that!

Originally posted to Timaeus on Tue Jan 20, 2009 at 07:44 PM PST.

Poll

So who screwed up the oath?

48%96 votes
14%28 votes
31%62 votes
1%2 votes
4%8 votes

| 196 votes | Vote | Results

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