Presidential inaugurations are solidified in history as important and memorable moments, but, as we’ve seen in the past, human error can sometimes lead things to go a bit off-script. Perhaps a quick flashback to President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 proves this points most vividly.
As you might recall, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made a flub during the swearing in and, as a result, Obama also didn’t get his words quite right. As the New York Times framed it at the time, the two “stumbled over each other’s words,” leading to a pretty strange situation.
In fact, it was apparently so uncertain and disputed that the two men met up at the White House the next day to once again administer the oath of office, just in case. The second time was the charm, as Reuters reported in 2013.
So, what exactly went wrong the first time, you ask?
Roberts apparently misplaced a word in the oath. While the term “faithfully” is intended to be between the words “will” and “execute,” he placed it at the end of the oath, saying, “That I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully.” That, of course, led Obama to stumble a bit, as the Times recounted.
From there, the exchange got a bit awkward, as that likely wasn’t what Obama was expecting to hear. As the two proceeded, Roberts apparently also left the word “execute” out when he gave it another try. With questions surrounding whether Obama had properly delivered the oath, he simply decided to give it another go the next day.
Watch the original moment unfold below:
But, again, the two got it right the second time, as you can see here:
This isn’t the first time an oath had to be done over, though, as the Times noted.
When Warren G. Harding died in 1923, Calvin Coolidge was initially sworn in by his own father; questions were subsequently raised about whether his dad had the authority to do so and the oath was re-done.
And that’s not all. Chester A. Arthur also had a second oath after “unusual circumstances” the first time around, the Washington Post reported.
According to the National Park Service, Arthur took the oath of office in 1881 after the assassination of President James Garfield. The first oath was taken in Harding’s home early in the morning and was later repeated at the U.S. Capitol.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens during today’s oath-taking, though most of these events have seemingly gone as planned and have not required a second try.
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