Monday, January 19, 2009

39 little words

Unless you've been living under a rock, you should know that Barack Obama will be inaugurated President of the United States tomorrow.

While there will be lots of ceremony, a speech and a parade, the most important item will last a handful of seconds. Obama will say
39 words:

"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God."
Once the election is decided, that's all it takes to become the most powerful man in the world, commander-in-chief of the most well-equipped and trained military in the world and hold the keys to enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet.

My wife and spent nearly an hour reading and signing papers to complete the purchase of our house once we spent days negotiating the price. I have spent several hours filling out and reading paperwork for a job once I managed to convince the company to hire me.

I suppose it's fitting the person taking over probably the toughest job ever conceived takes less than a minute to be installed.

But these words Obama and his 43 colleagues have spoken say volumes about what Americans expect from their leader. Obama will be expected no just to do his job, but do it to the best of his ability. As a media member, I can attest Americans spend a lot of time arguing over whether the president is in top form.

He also is expected to uphold the Constitution and its principals, the framework of the U.S. government. Obama will not be allowed to act as he chooses, he must obey the rules we have given him. That's not easy as we have seen with his immediate predecessor and others.

The president is an instrument of our government, not the master of it, and the oath is a testament to it. He is filling a job Americans open every four years. Tomorrow, we'll be reminded of exactly what we expect of our new employee with 39 words.

No comments: