Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our Second Black President

Let's put to rest the notion that Obama is our first black president. And no, I'm not talking about Bill Clinton. Condoleeza Rice was our first black (and female) president. Here's how:

The 20th Amendment provides:
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

But, Article II, section 1 provides:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--''I do solemnly swear (or affirm) 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, until Obama took the oath, he wasn't president. Biden took his oath at around 12:01 or 12:02, and Obama at about 12:04 or 12:05.

So, if Bush and Cheney were out as of noon, who was president between noon and the oaths? Well, the Presidential Succession Act, 3 USC sec. 19, provides that the president would be the Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi), but only if the Speaker resigned from the House first. Ditto the next person on the list, the President Pro Tem of the Senate (Robert Byrd, currently). Since neither resigned in that minute or two, the next person on the list is Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (for whom there is no resignation requirement, presumably because she is already in the Executive Branch).

So, Condi was our first black and first female president. Two more firsts for the Grand Old Party!

And let's toast the success of her presidency -- no attacks, no scandals, no problems. Thank you, Condi, for your marvelous stewardship of this great nation!

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