I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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.And then Jesus-y types add "So help me god." I heard a rumor Barack Obama might say, "So help me Lenin," but he'll probably just stick with Allah.
The ceremony is organized by some joint congressional committee blahblahblah. The USMC band plays their most important gig here. The VP swears in first (pre-1937 this used to happen in the Senate) with a slightly longer and weirder oath, after which the band does some ruffles and flourishes and plays "Hail, Columbia," our old national anthem. I read some interesting things about "Columbia" vs. "America" in my Keywords for American Cultural Studies book this week. Maybe one day I will share them with you. That day is not today, as this history post is already two days late. Anyway, then the President-elect gets sworn in and there's a 21-gun salute (apparently 21 is some arbitrary traditional naval number for heads of state) and the band does "Hail to the Chief." Although I think the best rendition of this song is, without question, when Kevin Kline sings it in the shower in Dave. But maybe I just like naked Kevin Kline. Whatevs. Anyway, Teddy Roosevelt didn't say "so help me god," he said, "And thus I swear." And Pierce "affirmed" rather than "swore." The inauguration also includes a presidential hike down Pennsylvania Avenue, the inaugural address, the post-ceremony luncehon thrown by Congress for the new president, about 150 balls and ten days of partying. Traditionally, the outgoing president attends the inauguration, but sometimes they are dead or bitter or Richard Nixon and don't show up. A couple times it was too cold to have the swearing-in outside (1909 and 1985). Anyway, I'm pumped for this Tuesday! At noon! I'll set my alarm! *This one is lame and about term limits or some shit, and is the bland innards of the Awesome Constitutional Sandwich of the 19th and 21st Amendments (ladies voting, prohibition repealing).
These days, the inauguration itself takes place at noon on January 20 on the steps of the Capitol in D.C. and the oath of office is administered by the Chief Justice. So we get treated to B-rock repeating after John Roberts in all his overly-tanned smugness. Before the ratification of the totes boring Twentieth Amendment,* presidents were sworn in in March. The first guy to do the oath thing in January was FDR, time #2 in 1937. And at that point it was all like, "Who gives a shit when we swear this dude in, he's going to be president for fucking ever." Although it should be noted that when the 20th of January is a Sunday, they do the swearing-in privately the 19th or 20th and have the big public to-do on Monday. God forbid we not keep the Sabbath Day holy! Literally. God forbids it. The first inauguration to take place in D.C. was Jefferson's first in 1801. They were still working on draining the swamp before that.FDR, FDR, FDR, FDR. I doubt anyone even bothered protesting.