January 22nd, 2009

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Because the Right Does Not Have A Lock on Looney

As we all know, Roberts screwed up the wording on the oath of office, requiring Obama to get resworn in last night. My personal theory is that Roberts, who was doing this for the first time and was out there on a cold winter day, screwed up. It happens and it is the most logical explanation. (Also, am I the only one who thought he made the concluding "so help you God" sound like a question? But I attribute this to nervousness as well, because "so help me God" is not part of the official text, although it has become customary. So I think Roberts, especially after his first screw up, felt a little awkward and unsure of whether to deviate again from the text.)

In any event, now comes the theory that Roberts was trying to invalidate the Obama presidency.

As a bunch of folks pointed out when whitehouse.gov flipped to reflect President Obama being the President at exactly 12:01 p.m., the Twentieth Amendment makes the transfer of power automatic regardless of when the administration of the oath takes place. The President need only take the oath "before the execution of his office."

Is there any impact from Roberts slip up? Conceivably, any acts taken before he got re-sworn using the proper text would be unofficial acts and only properly executed after the oath was administered. I suppose one might conceive of a case where this would matter, but it is rather difficult. Further, it is not as if the President did not vow to protect the Constitution, the critical element of the oath. The question -- if any court ever decided someone had standing to challenge -- would be whether the matter is subject to strict formalism or whether a statement reasonably close to the wording, containing the critical elements and with clear intent to take the correct oath, and remedied reasonably swiftly thereafter, is sufficient.

But in no case could it invalidate the Presidency, as Roberts would well know.

We have real enough issues before us. I hope progressives are wise enough to learn from the example of the Republican base -- which has become obsessed with the purported deep-laid plots of the liberal elite to destroy the real America -- to avoid getting sucked into these self-destructive sideshows.
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My rant from this morning

I started off the day with an email rant on a list I'm on dealing with the economics of broadband (which I must get fatlefty on now that I think of it). We've been debating the broadband stimulus package. I decided this rant was generally applicable beyond the issue in question.

It also highlights that a lot of people who have had leading roles in various movements for the last 15+ years are going to need to be given nice retirement jobs. They have either become broken and beg for crumbs, or are trapped fighting and disbelieving everything. They do not understand what it means to engage -- only how to surrender or how to attack. To engage is to go in focused on outcome and aware that a new environment gives new opportunities -- including how to fight better, harder and more effectively.

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