Not since Robert Goulet forgot the words to the national anthem has there been a moment to rival the chief justice’s blowing his lines, turning The Oath of Office into an Abbott & Costello “Who’s-on first?” routine.

The giggling schoolboy side of me thought it laughable as hell. What would the funny man do next? Drop the Lincoln bible on his foot?

Yet the increasingly curmudgeonly side of me frowned and found it inexcusable. It isn’t as if some tipsy, third-rate actor did it. It was the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States!

And he was playing to perhaps the largest audience in world history.

Nerves? Stage fright?

How nervous could a man in his position possibly be? As one of the dozen remaining people in the country with job security — and for life — oughtn’t he be at least relatively calm?

Dick Cavett



~ by eaesthete on 01/25/09.

2 Responses to “Afterword”

  1. Dick, get over it. The chief justice “was” calm. He’s the chief justice of the supreme court, not God. And he tripped over a word or two. Now maybe in some third world country it would be “off with his head” for the screw up of the “sacred” oath, but this is the United States of America. End of discussion.

  2. I’ve gotta side with Dick on this one. The man’s the chief justice of the supreme court. The oath he administered was approximately 35 words, far shorter than the one for the VP. This wasn’t a last-minute emergency. He knew well in advance that one of his most highly visible moments in his career was at hand and he, obviously, wasn’t prepared.

    Another reader thinks he was “calm.” Hard to say but I’ve got to believe something must have been up. Was he thinking the new pres did not endorse him as chief justice when Bush nominated him? Maybe I’m giving this more analysis than it deserves but could Roberts really be that careless?

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