Ambassador donates historic e-reader to Swiss museum


Vice President Joe Biden swears in Suzi LeVine as the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland on May 30. (Courtesy U.S. State Department)

Ambassador to Switzerland  Suzi LeVine made some history May 30 when she became the first U.S. ambassador to be sworn in on an e-reader device — rather than the usual paper Bible or Constitution.

The oath was administered at the White House by Vice President Biden as LeVine placed her hand on her Amazon Kindle — opened to the 19th Amendment, which gave U.S. women the right to vote in 1920.

On Wednesday, LeVine  donated the historic e-reader to the Museum of Communication in Bern, Switzerland.

At her swearing- in, the former Microsoft and Expedia executive said she chose to be sworn in on her Kindle because it was “what I had,” but also because it “reflects my passion for technology and my hope for the future.”

“Think about how forward-thinking our founding fathers were when they penned the original document – designing something that could adapt to the changing needs and conditions in our great nation,” she said. “As one of, if not the first person to take this oath over an electronic device, I am honoring American innovation, entrepreneurship and the fact that each citizen has a voice in our democracy – and more and more tools through which to make that voice heard.”

Levine said  in Bern that she chose to be sworn in on her e-reader because it symbolized the best of the United States and the voice “that the Swiss have in their democracy, as well.”

(LeVine, diplomatically, didn’t note that it took the Swiss a bit longer to come around on the voting rights question. They finally granted women the right to vote in 1971.)

Our colleague Brian Fung reports that, while LeVine may be the first ambassador to avail herself of the new technology, New Jersey firefighters were sworn in on an iPad edition of the Bible last February when no one could find a print version. And a New Jersey official did the same a month before that.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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