By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 22, 2009
In golf, they call it a mulligan. A do-over.
There's no formal name for what President Obama and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did last night.
After flubbing his one role on Inauguration Day -- administering the oath of office to Obama -- Roberts traveled to the White House to re-administer the oath.
Just to make sure.
"We decided it was so much fun . . .," Obama joked while sitting on a couch in the Map Room. Obama stood and walked over to make small talk with pool reporters as Roberts donned his black robe.
"Are you ready to take the oath?" Roberts asked.
"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replied.
After a flawless recitation that included no Bible and took 25 seconds, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations, again."
Obama said, "Thank you, sir," and then added: "All right. The bad news for the [reporters] is there's 12 more balls."
A president is required by the Constitution to say, "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
At the inauguration, Roberts instead said: "that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully."
In a statement, White House counsel Greg Craig said the oath was re-administered "out of an abundance of caution."
"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the oath appears in the Constitution itself," Craig's statement said.
Two presidents -- Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur -- have retaken the oath because of unusual circumstances the first time around.
The Map Room ceremony was less grand than the original one in front of the throng on the Mall.
But it was certainly warmer.