January 28th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
11 months 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. Eric

    So the rules are this:
    Republican mis-speaks: huge blunder, buffoon, racist, whatever
    Democrat mis-speaks: "Joe being Joe", "it was an honest mistake", "he's not normally like that", "let it go already" etc.

    Not that there's any media (or blogger) bias or anything...

    January 28, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Alberta

    I think Joe is great. We need tome light heartedness in the White House.

    January 28, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Roger

    Biden is and has always been in the wrong profession. As a VP he is a disgrace and I hope he doesn't distract too much attention from the President.. If he was Secretary of State he could be worse.

    January 28, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. Ray Fisher

    Everybody should be less picky and focus upon important things. I thought it was funny that our chief justice flubbed an oath, no harm done just proves he is human. Get over it!!!

    January 28, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Kurt C.

    The last thing Biden needs to do is make jokes about other people for making any mistake.

    "Stand up Chuck, Stand up!!"

    January 28, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. Melissa

    Chill. He was joking....

    January 28, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. Eugene

    This is so refreshing after eight years of unrepentant killing and then unapologized for jokes about missing WMD's under Bush's desk.

    January 28, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. JackH

    And the press thought PALIN was unqualified.....

    Look who does look like a pig with lipstick ===> Biden

    January 28, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. California Gold

    If you think before you let your thoughts roll out of your mouth like a gum ball in a machine, you don't have to apologize for saying something stupid and offensive.

    January 28, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Mari

    JOE BIDEN....... you are the Vice President now, STOP with the jokes already!

    We love you, just relax.

    To the far-right:

    Are you people REALLY Christian??? Because ALL I read from your comments on these blogs is hate, lies, fear and division.
    Shame on you!

    January 28, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Nilesh

    This is making a mountain out of a mole hill....the fact is that Roberts screwed up and Biden made a harmless joke about it. Big deal....let it go, media!

    January 28, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. Carl

    The reason the joke bombed was because Obama did not think it was funny. People naturally look to the most powerful individual in the room for cues to laugh. This is not necessarily power based on position, but power based on the person's presence. If Obama had made the comment or if he had even cracked a smile, everyone would have had a good laugh. You can see this effect by just noticing how crowds of people always laugh at the smallest off-hand comments that Obama makes, whether they are truly funny or not.

    January 28, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  13. doug rice

    If my memory serves me correctly, Biden is an accomplished "memorizer", usually others' writings, having plagerized a number of times in the past.

    January 28, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Lisa in Ohio

    Joe needs to get on board with President Obama. These petty, snide, uncalled for remarks cause nothing but dissention. Has Joe not been listening to Obama at ALL? Biden is a time bomb and Obama knows it. Thanks to Obama for making Biden apologize ... because we know that's how the meeting went down. For all the change and good Obama is trying to accomplish, there's Blow Joe acting a fool. Obama needs to get him in line but the question is – can Joe even act professional? I've never seen it.
    I'm a republican and I stand behing President Obama 110%. I think it's way past time for Change – including everyone! I respect the way he DEMANDS respect and I hope he continues to hold everyone accountable. Throw the rep/dem out the door and work together!

    January 28, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Sandra in Texas

    I'm sorry–did I miss the apology from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for messing up a simple oath for one of the most Historic Events in our Government??? so what if Joe the VP made a joke!

    January 28, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. Dan

    We all need to loosen up. This was a very understandable quip. We all take ourselves too serious. Let's enjoy our differences and let's start laughing at ourselves. This constant inability to see humor in ourselves and others is sad.

    January 28, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. james

    Just one of many that VP Biden will make. Hey! Biden's got a reputation to live up too.

    January 28, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. Mike

    Come on folks. It was funny. I'm sure the Chief Justice thought so, too.

    January 28, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Raul

    Funny joke, it made sense for the vp to poke fun at Justice Roberts. It would have been in poorer taste for the President to do so. Joe did the right thing, privately.

    January 28, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Chris

    Entirely appropriate to apologize. Joking in the first place was in bad taste and wrong.

    January 28, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. William

    Re. comment by Mark Lodes (January 28th, 2009 4:04 am ET)
    "..... You should hear my Republican buddies talk seriously about how Obama may not actually "be the president" because he flubbed the lines."

    You mean the way liberals cried like spoiled children when Gore lost the 2000 election, and repeatedly claimed (seriously) for 8 years that President Bush was therefore illegitimate? Apparently you possess the two traits that pretty much define the typical liberal – ignorance and hypocrisy.

    January 28, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. videodrome

    Okay, I don't see anything terribly funny about Biden's "joke".
    Yeah.
    But I doh't see anything terribly offensive either.
    Can we try to focus on some other issues right now - like fixing this miserable economy?

    January 28, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. Kelly

    What is the big deal with the joke?

    January 28, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. REW

    Gee, it's not like he did something horrible like spell "potato" wrong!

    If Biden was a Republican, his comment would have been blown completely out of proportion and his IQ would be the story of the week. Instead, the "unbiased" members of the press chuckle and move on.

    January 28, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. REW

    Gee, it's not like he did something horrible and spell "potato" wrong!

    If Biden was a Republican, his comment would have been blown completely out of proportion and his IQ would be the story of the week. Instead, the "unbiased" members of the press chuckle and move on.

    January 28, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
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