Day: January 19, 2013

Two Historic Anniversaries And The Presidential Inauguration

150 years ago on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

50 years ago, on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr delivered the “I Have A Dream” speech.

50 years later, on January 20 privately, and January 21 publicly, Barack Obama is taking the oath of office for his second term as President, the product of what Lincoln and King did!

This is, indeed, a very historic time in so many ways!

Public Inauguration Of President Obama On Martin Luther King Jr. Day On Monday

The public inauguration of President Obama will be held at 12 Noon on Monday, January 21, which is also the day we celebrate the life and heritage of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A King Bible and an Abraham Lincoln Bible will be used to bring together the strands of the American past, connecting what Lincoln did–issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and working for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which freed the slaves; and King’s leadership of the civil rights movement—both events the forerunner of the election and reelection of our first African American President of the United States, a major plus for the American image in the world.

It is expected that those who have come to celebrate the inauguration will number about half of the 1.8 million people, including this author, who attended in 2009.

This time, the author is watching on television from the comfort of his family room!

Second Obama Term More An Accomplishment Than First Term Election

As great an accomplishment as the first term victory of Barack Obama was, the election of the first African American President, one could always have naysayers who would claim that it was a mistake, an emotional action, a reaction to difficult times, an experiment, a fluke.

But the fact that Barack Obama has now won a second term, and both times by a majority of the popular vote, and in the midst of the highest unemployment for a sitting President running for reelection since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, and with the tremendous polarization that sadly exists in America as the second inauguration looms, it cannot be said that Obama being President fits any of the descriptions listed above.

America is indeed divided, the most since 1879 in Congress, it has been stated, but again, Obama has won the majority of the popular vote twice now, and has won a majority of states twice, and has won most of the heavily populated states as well, with the major exception of Texas.

So this inauguration is something to celebrate more than even the first one, and while many will be unhappy, that is actually not all that uncommon, particularly considering how many times a President has been elected by fewer than a majority of popular votes, including in the past half century, the following: John F. Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968, Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and George W. Bush in 2000–five times out of 13 elections.

So it is time to celebrate American democracy!

Inaugural Addresses And History

Some statistics on Inaugural Addresses:

Longest–William Henry Harrison, 1841–about 8,000 words, and led to illness for Harrison and his death one month later.

Shortest–George Washington—1793–a mere 135 words, which took about two minutes to utter.

Memorable By Chronology
Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address—1801
Abraham Lincoln—Second Inaugural Address—1865, only 700 words
Woodrow Wilson—Second Inaugural Address—1917
Franklin D. Roosevelt–First Inaugural Address–1933
Harry Truman—Inaugural Address—1949
John F. Kennedy–Inaugural Address–1961
Ronald Reagan—First Inaugural Address—1981
Bill Clinton—Second Inaugural Address—1997
Barack Obama–First Inaugural Address—2009–historic because first African
American President

Most Historic—Lincoln, FDR, JFK—usually in that order.

Chief Justices And The Presidential Oath Of Office

Just a day and two away from the next quadrennial historic moment of a Chief Justice giving the oath of office to the President of the United States, it is interesting to look at the history of Chief Justices and Presidents they have sworn in.

The record of the most Presidents sworn in by a Chief Justice is Roger Taney, appointed by Andrew Jackson,who swore into office a total of seven Presidents–Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. And Lincoln was a great antagonist of Taney.

However, Chief Justice John Marshall, appointed by John Adams, had more total swearings into office of Presidents–a total of nine times–Thomas Jefferson twice, James Madison twice, James Monroe twice, John Quincy Adams once, and Andrew Jackson twice. And all but John Quincy Adams were his antagonists.

Then we have Chief Justice William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States, who as the appointee of Warren G. Harding, swore in Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

And we have a former Presidential nominee, Charles Evans Hughes, who as Chief Justice, chosen by Herbert Hoover, swore in Franklin D. Roosevelt three times, and was a major antagonist of FDR and his Court “Packing” Plan.

And we have Chief Justice Earl Warren, appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who swore in Ike, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon, with Nixon being a major antagonist of Warren.

Finally, we have Chief Justice John Roberts, who has had a difficult relationship with Barack Obama, and who messed up the Inaugural oath in 2009 and had to redo it the next day for accuracy; made clear his annoyance at Obama’s criticism of the Citizens United decision in his State of the Union Address in 2010; and yet backed ObamaCare in June 2012, legitimizing it for the future and saving it from extinction. Still, Roberts is no “friend” of Obama.

And of course, some extremists talk of impeaching Roberts just for the act of swearing in Obama as President for the second time. But Roberts will not be deterred from his responsibility to do this, although in reality, any Justice or judge could swear in the President of the United States.