Presidents are People

February 8, 2017

Every four years America gets a new president. The long process is jam-packed with politics and nearly unbearable. Everyone seems to always be at attention of who’s doing what, who they’re talking to, and their future plans. With the focus being on their every move, errors do occur. Now, let’s pretend that the presidents are actually just everyday people, who make mistakes, just like the people who they work with. Presidents aren’t perfect In fact, many of them make mistakes within their first few moments as president.

In 2009 President Obama had to retake his oath after Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Roberts, mixed up the words, saying, “..I will execute faithfully the Office of President of the United States…” , instead of saying “…I will faithfully execute..” Obama seemed to catch Roberts error, but he couldn’t get things quite back on track, restating the correct oath halfway through saying the wrong one.

In 1965 Chief Justice Earl Warren made a similar but more miniscule mistake while swearing in Lyndon B. Johnson. He said “… the Office of the Presidency…” It never was corrected, instead just laughed about later. Most people didn’t even recognize that the mistake had happened because of the stress the day holds all together.

If you’re not into history, or you just never paid attention in that one history class you hated, then you probably don’t know that the “S” in Harry S. Truman doesn’t stand for anything. Chief Justice Harlan Stone was one of those people, and while swearing in Truman, he decided to use the name Harry “Shipp” Truman. Then in 1929 during Herbert Hoover’s inauguration, Chief Justice William Howard Taft swapped out a whole word synonym. Instead of saying “Preserve, protect, and defend” Taft said, “Preserve, maintain, and defend.” Some would’ve thought that Taft being a former president himself would’ve known better, but he defended himself saying that, “before radio, we messed it up even more than that.”

In 1961, Robert Frost was going to be the first poet to read a poem at the inauguration, chosen by John F. Kennedy himself. However, the night before it had snowed and the glare off the snow caused Frost to not be able to see what he had written. He later recited a poem he had memorized, “The Gift Outright”, and addressed it to the new president, whom he called, get this, John Findlay.

In 1873, during Ulysses S. Grant’s Inaugural ball, it became apparent that someone had forgotten to turn the heat on. People were trying to dance with their dress coats on, meanwhile tripping over them and each other. The administration also had purchased canaries to make the night even more magical, but when it was time for the reveal they’d realized that the birds had frozen to death. It truly brought about an unforgettable night for the guests.

Although getting names mixed up, citing the oath wrong, and dead canaries are bad, I’d believe that an inebriated vice president would have to take the cake. During Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration in 1865, his vice president fell ill. Since it was tradition for the vice president to also give a speech, he was given whiskey to help “cure” him; he soon became drunk. While he was giving the address, his words and speech became slurred, and he started to ramble incoherently. People listening were reported to have held their heads in shame and embarrassment.

So while presidents and  supreme court chief justices are assumed to know all the ins and outs of what seems like a simple task, that may not be very true. They’re all human, just like us. We elect the people we think will mess up the least, and while there are mistakes made, it’s always good to be able to look back and coincide with our superiors…and maybe even have a laugh. Always keep in mind they’re people too, and try not to judge them too harshly.


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