January 28th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
4 years ago

Biden apologizes to Roberts for oath of office joke

Biden couldn't pass up poking fun at Chief Justice Roberts last week.

Biden couldn't pass up poking fun at Chief Justice Roberts last week.

(CNN) — An aide to Vice President Joe Biden tells CNN he called Chief Justice John Roberts last week to apologize for a light-hearted remark he made over the flubbed Inauguration Day oath of office.

"My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts, Chief Justice Roberts," Biden said last Wednesday, as he asked for a copy of the oath he was using to swear in senior members of the White House staff.

Several staffers reacted to the comment with groans and laughter, though President Obama, standing next to Biden, did not crack a smile.

An aide to the vice president said Tuesday the two men spoke privately after that comment. “They spoke and had a good conversation,” said the aide, who declined to give further details.

Roberts' mistake came about half way through the 35-word oath, when, reciting from memory, he said the word 'faithfully,' out of order. The flub confused Obama who ultimately repeated the mistake.

Meanwhile, Biden has been selected to handle the administration’s first foreign trip. The White House said Tuesday the vice president will travel to Germany next week with retired Gen. James Jones, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

Biden will represent the United States at the Wehrkunde, the annual security policy conference held in Munich.

–CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report

Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (609 Responses)
  1. Jason

    What if instead of pausing during the oath, President Obama said “Don’t Roberts Me, Chief!”?

    January 27, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  2. pot-kettle-black

    Sarah January 27th, 2009 8:01 pm ET

    When did we all get so SENSITIVE?!?!?!

    Isn't this what you people wanted? PC is going to kill this country like it is doing to the UK.

    You all are bad mouthing the VP like you've bad mouthed Bush.

    obamessiah will fix everything, no one else needed to help.


    God, please save the U.S. from these people. Please.

    January 27, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  3. sense of humor in WA

    Lighten up. It was funny.

    January 27, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  4. Adam

    I fail to understand how this is newsworthy, let alone how anybody could care about this. It was a JOKE people. Geez. it's not like he said something offensive about CJ Roberts' mother or wife or anything off color about him personally. Heck, it is funny that the Chief Justice screwed up the presidential oath on inauguration day. It's not like the CJ is a bafoon – mistakes just happen and the VP was just poking a little fun. Lighten up people...there are larger things in life to be concerned with.

    January 27, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. Melissa from New Orleans

    Eh. People need to stop being so sensitive. It was just a silly joke.

    January 27, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  6. Brian

    If Roberts was going to be hurt by peoples comments he could have, you know, not screwed up.

    Lighten up, have a little fun, smiling is good for your health

    January 27, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  7. John E. Vargo

    I would put Mr. Biden on a short leash – IMMEDIATELY!

    January 27, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  8. Christopher Parsons

    Merely a demonstration of a quick wit. Exactly who does this remark offend? I would prefer more elected officials exhibit some evidence of ongoing brain activity. Given the country's dire current conditions, the challenges we face, why the focus on an inconsequential remark by a vice president on his first day in office? For those who claim this demonstrates that he is not qualified to be Vice President, would you then agree Ronald Reagan was an unfit President on the basis of his "We bomb Russia in 5 minutes" remark?

    January 27, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  9. midwest mom

    oh brother...Joe didn't need to apologize....people need to lighten up! there is alot of scarey stuff out there...find a reason to smile and laugh!

    January 27, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  10. Richard Larson

    There are very few occasions in which a little levity isn't useful. I thought it was an honest attempt to relieve a stressful situation. As far as Obama is concerned; if he cannot find it within himself to first, appreciate the merits of humor, and, 2, that if he, Obama, doesn't want to live to be a wise old man, he is just going to have to unbend a little even if it seems to him that the occasion is serious.

    Man is the only created being that has a sense of humor. Yes, there are times, and places, but to have to grovel and apologize is beyond good sense.

    January 27, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  11. Jerry

    It was funny as hell, and he obviously didn't mean anything by it. Anyone who says otherwise is a complete fool.

    January 27, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. Judy from PA

    I agree with some of you. When it was Bush making a blunder it is ok to make fun of him, when it is Biden, oh, cut him a break. I am tired of the double standards. Obama said people should stop listening to Rush Limbaugh. When in reality they should stop listening to Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow. I was disgusted listening to them talk about the now former President Bush.

    January 27, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  13. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    have we really gotten this sensitive that we can't have a harmless joke every now and then? OMG you should read some of the "jokes" on the internet about President Obama alone. The only difference between the Obama jokes and the Bush jokes I've seen so far is that all the Obama jokes are based on race. And trust me sometimes that ISN'T funny.

    January 27, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  14. bsmith171

    biden is EXACTLY like cheney.

    BOTH got FIVE draft deferments while normal american young boys were having to fight another one of their political wars.

    January 27, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  15. J.C.

    Both men are good men. Why do some of us have to paint either of them otherwise?

    January 27, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. New Orleans White Teacher

    It might be interesting for some of you to know how some African-American children in New Orleans understood the original mistakes (plural) by the Chief Justice. And, yes, many watched that part of the inauguration. First, they wanted to know if Obama had made a mistake. The answer being, "Not really." What else could the man have done after the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court confused things starting with not sticking to the normal pause after "I, Barack Hussein Obama." Second, they wanted to know if the Chief Justice deliberately messed up the oath because he was swearing in an African-American president. I had never thought of that possibility and was saddened to know that would occur to six-and-seven-year-old children. My explanation was that any of us can make mistakes when we get nervous, but how telling is it that children who were toddlers during Katrina do not trust the white members of their federal government? Get over the little stuff, people. There's a lot of work to be done that none of you even know.

    January 27, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  17. DC IN DC


    January 27, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. Rob

    It was kinda funny, I sure Roberts can laugh at himself too.

    January 27, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  19. EC

    Hey, I'm not mad at you VP Biden, I thought the flubb was funny too. However, remember in the future, there is a time and place for everything.

    January 27, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  20. Joe Rocks!

    Behind every joke is an element of truth –
    How can you NOT toss a jab when the chief effin' justice of the Supreme Court (appointed by W) screws up the Inaugural oath... 35 words he's supposed to have commited to memory?
    Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" — from Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000; or even if they can remember their lines in front of a crowd...

    January 27, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  21. TyWebb

    Who cares? Biden will be a good VP. The world needs to get over itself. No one can say anything anymore without it being a crisis.

    January 27, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  22. Boni T.

    Come on! After all, Roberts did mess up; he blew the lines he should have memorized thoroughly before heading out to do his job. Get off Biden's back.

    January 27, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  23. Warren

    Seriously, what's the big deal? Should we impeach him because he made a comment that meant no harm but, apologized anyway? Lighten up people.

    Why so serious?

    January 27, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  24. Allie

    Honestly, the accompanying picture is a great deal funnier than his "joke"...Old people sure can be funny...looking.

    January 27, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  25. Get Real, Boise, ID

    HA HA HA! Look at that facial expression of his!

    January 27, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
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