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Oklahoma Governor Misspoke?

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When she was inaugurated in January, Governor Mary Fallin became Oklahoma’s first female governor.  This marked a turning point in Oklahoma politics in many ways, but just as her win brought out a number of detractors, so did her inauguration.  Many are now claiming that Fallin did not repeat the oath of office correctly.  Instead of swearing to “support, obey, and defend” the Constitution, they claim she actually said “support, obey, and offend.”

 Before I get into whether or not she did misspeak, let’s look at two very important facts surrounding the inauguration.  First, there’s the fact that Fallin was undoubtedly nervous.  Yes, she had been sworn in as lieutenant governor several years ago and then, later, as a state representation.  However, while those are two important offices, they don’t exactly compare with being sworn in as governor of a state.  Then add the extra stress of being the state’s first female governor and knowing that some are already against you.  Who wouldn’t be nervous?  As anyone who has ever had to speak in public in front of a large group knows, it’s very easy to get tongue-tied.

The weather also played a big part—it was unusually cold on inauguration day.  We’ve been having a pretty warm weather (it’s been almost 70 in January!), but it was very cold on the day she was sworn in.  Some thermometers were showing it was around 29 degrees outside.  There was even some talk of moving her inauguration inside due to snow.  Standing outside with the cold temperature and the harsh wind, it’s a wonder her teeth weren’t chattering loudly. 

So here’s the big question: what did she really say?  You can listen to her take the oath and decide for yourself—local news station KOCO TV has posted a recording of the event on YouTube.  I can see (or is that hear?) why some people think she said “offend.”  It really does sound like that’s what she’s saying, but it’s somewhat hard to tell.  However, Fallin’s spokesman Alex Weintz actually admitted that she probably had dropped the “d” from the word “defend.”

While state Democrats may be quick to criticize Fallin for her slip-up, they really have no room to talk—President Obama and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts both flubbed up during the president’s inauguration.  In fact, they had to repeat the swearing in the next day at the White House.  Other presidents have had to do this as well.

More news and coverage of Governor Fallin’s inauguration:

The Huffington Post blog discusses the slip-up but points out that reciting the oath isn’t the important part—signing a copy of the oath is what actually makes her governor.

The Muskogee Politico Blog has a picture showing just how hazy and cold the day was.

The Political Realities blog has a full copy of Fallin’s inaugural address.

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