Oath and Variations

President Obama re-took his Oath of office and we were wondering whether that was really necessary. Surely repeats and rewordings are common when people are asked to repeat a complex oath in front of an audience. Heck, we were warned before our wedding vows that the word is "consecrate", not "constipate".

Through the power of Youtube and a user who goes by the name of Regan Wayne, we were able to listen for ourselves to oaths of the last 13 presidents. Here's the oath of office, as it is given most often(very close to the one that appears in the Constitution):

I name [1]

do solemnly swear [2]

that I will faithfully execute [3]

the Office of President of the United States, [4]

and will to the best of my Ability [5]

preserve, protect and defend [6]

the Constitution of the United States [7]

So help me God. [8]

It is interesting to note that different justices and presidents have staged their breaks at different points in the oath. Here are the past 13 presidents along with a link to one of their oaths and a list of breaks. Note that Roosevelt had the fewest breaks (just 1) and Johnson, Carter, and Ford broke after every line (7 breaks each).

Note: Changed "President" to "the President".

  • Kennedy: [2], [4], [5], [7], [8]
  • Johnson: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]
  • Note: Both changed "President" to "the Presidency".

  • Nixon, term 2 of 2: [2], [4], [5], [7], [8]
  • Note: Changed "protect" to "and protect".

  • Ford: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]
  • Carter: [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]
  • Regan, term 1 of 2: [2], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]
  • Bush: [2], [4], [5], [7], [8]
  • Note: Started speaking right after [1], but stopped immediately.

  • Clinton, term 1 of 2: [2], [4], [5], [7], [8]
  • Bush, term 1 of 2: [2], [4], [5], [7], [8]
  • Obama: [2], [4], [5], [7], [8]
  • Note: Started speaking right after [1], but was stopped quickly. Both moved "faithfully" to end of [4]. Chief Justice repeated in the correct order.

    We were surprised that apart from four distinct variations of the break patterns, there are very few changes from oath to oath. The small ones we noticed were Eisenhower ("the President"), Johnson ("the Presidency"), and Nixon ("and protect"). Both Bush Sr. and Obama jumped the gun and tried to introduce a break at [1]. But, our most recent oath is a clear winner in terms of miscues. Here's the transcript:

    R: I, Barack Hussein Obama

    O: I,

    Together:

      O: Barack

      R: do

    R: solemnly swear

    O: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear

    R: that I will execute the Office of President of the United States faithfully

    O: that I will execute

    R: the Off faithfully the Pres the Office of President of the

    Together:

      R: United States

      O: the Office of

    O: President of the United States faithfully

    R: and will to the best of my Ability

    O: and will to the best of my Ability

    R: preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

    O: preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

    R: So help you God?

    O: So help me God.

    None of the others we listened to had two people talking over each other or speakers repeating themselves. So, yeah, maybe a do-over was a good idea. You know, just to be sure.