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About That Biden Oath

Much has been made about Chief Justice John Roberts flubbing the inaugural oath of President Obama. The two "fox-trott[ed] all over the oath of office," according to Slate. Conspiracy theorists claim that Roberts was exacting revenge for Obama's vote against him during the Justice's confirmation hearings in the Senate. And an op-ed in the New York Times supposes that Roberts was channeling his inner grammarian.

Biden's botched oath

Having witnessed the slip-up in person—albeit from 1,000 yards away—I would guess that it was just a case of nerves for the first-time inaugurator. Even Supreme Court chief justices can get nervous in front of a global audience, and I'm sure Roberts practiced a few times before the do-over.

But with all the hubbub about Obama's oath—which is apparently just ceremonial, anyway—few people, if any, noticed Joe Biden changing up the words as well. It's subtle but no less important than the "faithfully" flap—in other words, not important at all.

At first, Biden followed Justice John Paul Stevens's lead with the precision and vigor he hopes to bring to the office of vice president .But about three quarters of the way through, Stevens accurately recited the line "and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter." When Biden repeated it, he omitted the word "that." (Stevens did not, however, render part of the oath, "I don't support and defend the constitution of the United States," as's Automatically Generated Transcript had it.)

Perhaps Biden, like Roberts, was subconsciously editing the oath as he recited it, eliminating the extraneous preposition. English teachers have waged a jihad against unnecessary "that"s for some time, and will no doubt be glad that they now have a voice in the White House.

The only downside is that there is a possibility that the person who was sworn into the position that would succeed the president might not have been sworn in. It's a good thing that the oath doesn't matter, or we might still have Dr. Stangelove as VP.


Five Suggestions from the Inauguration

The inauguration of a new president is a grand thing, and Gelf had fun hanging out in Washington and Tweeting our thoughts while we waited on line. For future inaugurations, though, we've got a few suggestions that may make the crowds more bearable and the party more rockin'. (1) Tickets should be given away Willy Wonka style.


The Inaugural Twitter Inauguration

Tuesday is a historic presidential inauguration: the first that will be Tweeted. Gelf's own Michael Myser—the Hack in our weekly Hack & Flack podcast—is in Washington to experience the inauguration and to say what he sees, in bites of 140 characters or fewer. He'll report on crowds on the trains and the Mall, early morning wake-up calls, parties at the bars, and tears—maybe his—during the swearing-in. Follow his updates after the jump.


International Foot Faults

While it’s true that hurling projectiles at a world leader's head during a press conference is bad manners in any culture, the fact that the offending objects flying in Bush's direction during a recent Iraqi press conference were shoes is particularly meaningful—and thus insulting—in Arab culture. That's because most Arabs consider shoes and feet to be unclean, and pretty much anything to do with them is considered to be disrespectful. The shoe-throwing is the latest in a long line of foot-related international incidents.


Cashing In on Hope

In what might very well go down as the worst memorabilia promotion in post-election history, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested for attempting to sell Barack Obama's freshly vacant U.S. Senate seat as a limited edition keepsake. Blagojevich, who had reportedly been subject to a good Sopranos-style wire-tapping for a month leading up to the sting, was recorded saying ridiculously illegal things such as, "Unless I get something real good [for Senate candidate 1], shit, I'll just send myself, you know what I'm saying," and that "[the Senate seat] is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."


Joe Secures His Dreams

Like a contestant on some kind of cable-news reality-TV show, Joe the Plumber is bound and determined to milk his brief, inexplicable, fame for every possible penny. By joining him on with a Freedom Membership—which, obviously, isn't free—you can gain access to Joe the Forum, which will enable you to "chat directly with Joe," and get a subscription to the "Joe the Blog" monthly newsletter. (Monthly? Apparently Joe is not only not a real Plumber, but he's not a real blogger, either.)


Push Poll or Bad Poll?

Like many conservative talk-radio hosts, John Ziegler kind of seems like an asshole. At the end of an interview with Nate Silver, Zeigler signed off with a tart "Go fuck yourself." But the poll conducted by John Zogby International for Zeigler's anti-Obama website, while sloppy and biased, is not quite the push poll that Silver says it is.


Smoking Bloggers Out of Their Caves

If it weren't for those meddlesome bloggers, Sarah Palin might have become the vice president of these United States. Instead, though, she was run back to Wasilla on a rail of unfounded speculation created by the laptoparazzi in their dank, underground abodes. Palin joined the ranks of her fellow sports reporters Rick Reilly, Bob Costas, and Dan Shaughnessy when she told FOX's Greta Van Susteren, "I'm going to characterize them as those bloggers in their parents' basement just talking garbage." Well put. But how could Palin know the exact location of these evildoers' hideouts? Perhaps she's been collecting intelligence from two particular conservative cognoscenti.


Election? What Election?

It's always fun when a headline from the Onion comes true after the fact—but when your publication runs a story right out of the satirical paper on the same day—and the biggest news day of the year, at that—maybe its time to reconsider your news judgment. And so while the Onion might be justified in placing the election of a local politician on its front page instead of the election of the nation's first black president, real papers who did the same can't claim to be satire.

Gelflog Politics
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