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Latest Biden Gaffe: VP Flubs Senate Swear-In


"Please place your right hand on the Bible..."

Another day, another gaffe from Vice President Joe Biden. This time, however, Biden's error involved the swearing in of the newest U.S. Senator.

Illinois Senator-elect Mark Kirk was at the Capitol Monday to take his oath of office, administered by Biden, the constitutionally appointed president of the Senate.

"Please place your right hand on the Bible," Biden instructed Kirk.

Kirk followed Biden's direction, placing his right hand on the Bible and raising his left hand in the air.

But as the Chicago Tribune points out, the "Traditions of the United States Senate" dictates that Senators take their oath of office by raising his or her right hand, not their left.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/DHBW1gQhWp0?fs=1&hl=en_US expand=1]

Elizabeth Alexander, Biden's spokeswoman, said Tuesday there's no do-over in the works. "We've checked with the Senate parliamentarian, and he's told us that whether Senator Kirk held up his left or right hand is of no consequence and has no bearing on his status as a sitting senator," she said.

Sitting Senate historian Donald Ritchie, told of the incident, said it brought to mind Chief Justice John Roberts getting the words wrong when administering the oath of office to President Barack Obama.

"People make mistakes," Ritchie shrugged. Still, he agreed Monday's miscue is inconsequential.

"The importance of the oath is that you agree with the oath, not that you raise a particular hand or you hold a particular Bible," he said. "All are completely secondary to your commitment to upholding the Constitution and supporting the United States."

Kirk's swearing-in was re-enacted immediately afterward in the ornate Old Senate Chamber, where still cameras are allowed (unlike on the Senate floor, where the oath was recorded on video). Kirk, on his second try, got it right.

Right vs left hand.  It would seem that this mix-up as inconsequential as Sarah Palin's recent North vs. South Korea misstatement.  But what are the chances the mainstream media will give Biden's gaffe as much attention?

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