January 28th, 2009
10:40 AM ET
8 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. Lynn in NM

    Roberts only flubbed the line, he didn't plagiarize it.

    January 27, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. Randall Arnold

    Joe made a mild joke. I'm sure Justice Roberts is a big boy and could roll with it. Everyone else taking offense needs to grow up.

    January 27, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  3. cathy smithson

    So the oath of office is now a joke, well that somehow makes sense as all we have in the White House is a bunch of new clowns.

    January 27, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. west coast

    I saw Joe Biden's video as it happened. What he did was unbecoming of a man in his office and for the solemn occasion, even though the Robert's flub was very regrettable. I saw the stone face of Obama and how he even reached and touched his elbow as if to say " enough of this and move on to do your solumn duty". I respect Obama for that.
    I also worry about the antics Joe Biden will continue to play that will strain the working relationship of the two.
    Obama will not put up with his non-sense. Will Biden submit?
    The lighter side is that the burden to rein Biden in is not for Obama to bear alone. Public opinion will help, I hope.

    January 27, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. seth, minnesota

    haha funny

    January 27, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. Matt Z

    Thank the lord this is the biggest crisis the US is currently embroiled in, or this issue would seem small potatoes.
    MZ

    January 27, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  7. Larry

    The VP made light of something that was after all, pretty amusing. Big deal. Would you rather deal with VP Biden or Cheney? Now there's a name that I'd rather forget. I'm looking forward to a straight shooting guy (even if he misses sometimes) as opposed to someone who kept the windows in his office painted black and lit only by candles–Transylvania like.
    Lighten up everybody!

    January 27, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  8. TjayeInLA

    Okay....Pres. Obama is just going to have to face and accept that Joe Biden is good for a silly laugh. Chillax Prez...we took Bush for 8 years...we can clearly take a joke. lol

    January 27, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  9. Agalag

    Biden is a moron who is constantly putting his foot in his mouth. He was reigned in during the election–Obama told him to keep his mouth shut, and he did. Looks like Barry's gonna have to give him another good talking to. No wonder Obama didn't laugh; he was so worried about it that he had to have Roberts come over for a quick visit–"and while you're here, do you think you could swear me in again?".

    Joe Biden was a poor choice on so many levels–but we shall seeee...

    January 27, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  10. Albo58

    Perhaps Biden's staff should go ahead and produce a few hundred, generic letters of apology for VP Biden to sign on his way to/from his home on the train?#! It's going to be a long 4 years...

    January 27, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  11. Maggie in MA

    I am all for humor but not at someone else's expense. I'm glad he apologized.

    January 27, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  12. Sally Dickason

    Why does everyone ignore the part where President Obama flubbed up with a premature recitation. I think that's what threw off the Chief Justice, when Pres Obama blurted out the first part before Mr. Roberts had finished the first phrase. I haven't heard a single late-night comedian mention President Obama's premature recitation.

    January 27, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Rorschach

    Waiting for some PC Republican to express his outrage in 3...2...1...

    January 27, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  14. Duh

    Same o'l diarrhea of the mouth for funny man Biden.

    January 27, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  15. Jacque Bauer

    A lot of sappy apologists here. Wake up – it's not like this was the first time or one thousandth. I just hope he doesn't say something to Ahmadinejad when he and O'man are kissing up to him that causes the little psycho to lauch.

    January 27, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  16. joseph

    Sometimes when everybody seems uptight and kind of tense it sometimes helps to make light of any given situation and i think that was the intent of the VP at that moment.

    January 27, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  17. John

    Why are people so thin skinned?

    January 27, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  18. Philip-Las Vegas

    We have other things much more important to worry about than someone criticizing a little good humor.

    January 27, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  19. educated Ron

    Lighten up already. The appeal of Biden is his ability to speak what's truly on his mind. That is very rare in a politician. Obama is extremely deliberate and purposely slow. He realizes he can't say or tries to avoid saying the wrong thing. Its undertandable for Obams the right wing is looking for anything to attack. Biden is old school can say what he wants. He's similar to charles barkley. He can say basically whatever he wants as long as he's honest about it.

    January 27, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. Moe Mullet

    Get used to the "Gaffe Master" Biden, smartest duffus on the planet, making all kinds of stupid, holier than thou comments. He's such and ignorant, dim-witted, pompous jerk. His new "Klingon" look should go over well with rest of the Botox Crowd.

    January 27, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  21. Ron, Oklahoma City OK

    ...and everyone thought the Bushisms were good. At least he isnt asking the wheelchair-bound to stand up or the blind to look at a piece of art! Good on ya, Joe...

    January 27, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  22. Ric

    I see Obama as a sensitive person acutely aware of the occasion and its significance to what he believes are core values that public servants must embody. By doing what he did, "rebuking" Biden, he showed great respect for his office, for the people he works with, and Justice Roberts.

    It was not a time for jests.

    Americans should be proud they have a respectful president.

    January 27, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  23. RaeofSun

    Haha, I would have bet money on this announcement when I read his original quote. Does an apology really mean anything? Besides my boss is already struggling hard to present an aura of bipartisanship and my foot doesn't taste so good in my mouth?

    January 27, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  24. Joyce Becker

    Joe is a very good man, however as Vice President he has to make some sort of effort to keep his tongue under control, as hard as that might be. What he said of course was nothing serious, but it could have hurt the Chief Justice's feelings unless he also has a good sense of humor. I am glad that President Obama didn't crack a smile when the remark was said, wonder what he said to poor Joe.

    January 27, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  25. Mike in AZ

    Yeah, it's horrible that Biden has a sense of humor. The PC police never rest.

    January 27, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
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