Madame President?

22 Jan

One Brief Shining Moment

Howard Wasserman first asked the question: Who was president while Perlman fiddled?

At noon, EST, by operation of the Twentieth Amendment, George W. Bush’s term as President of the United States ended. At that moment, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman were performing (the piece that was, by the way, my wedding processional). It was not until 12:04 p.m. that Chief Justice Roberts and Barack Obama stood up, Roberts asked “Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?”, Obama answered “I am,” and they began (by the way, it was Roberts who read the oath wrong initially).

So who was President between noon and 12:04?

Over at The Washington City Paper Blog, Northern Kentucky University law professor Ken Katkin says that, due to the chain of events, Accordingly, from 12:00 noon until 12:01 p.m. (when Vice President Biden took the oath of office and became Vice President), Condoleeza Rice was momentarily the Acting President of the United States, our first African-American President.

Ah, what a wonderful thought. And a thought that would make liberal heads explode around the globe.

But alas, as much fun as it is, it’s just not true.

For one thing, contrary to the first assessment, Joe Biden did take the oath of office before noon. In addition, as The Volokh Conspiracy points out: Obama became the President at noon, and that he was supposed to (and did) take the oath before exercising his executive duties, in this case at 12:10.

In a situation where the President retook the oath of office (due to misplaced words by the Chief Justice), it’s just a bit of fun.

Or as Mark Impomeni at RedState puts it: Congratulations, Condoleezza Rice, our first African-American (Acting) President, and first female president too! Which, of course, makes President Barack Obama our second black President.

It was just a bit of fun. :

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