For the first time in history the presidential oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of United States was not taken on the the Bible.Or not. Or rather, some will have to cry "poor historical research," for not only is Obama not the first President to be sworn in in both public and private ceremonies with-and-without a bible, he could not even have been the first to be sworn in without a bible at all, had he so chosen.
Was this just an oversight or was it the plan all along? It is unlikely that the ceremony will be repeated for those who have concerns about this breach of presidential protocol. I have no doubt Washington and Lincoln would have found a Bible...
While some will cry conspiracy, it is certainly an omen of things to come.
According to the Library of Congress, Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to be sworn in privately without a bible and publicly with, followed four years later by Chester A. Arthur. Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in with his hand on a Catholic Missal, which while it contains bible readings is not a bible any more than is that Four Spiritual Laws tract Christians leave instead of a tip**.
But at least LBJ tried. Teddy Roosevelt, on the other hand, was sworn in without a bible, and no one cared. In fact, for most of America's history no one has cared so much that we simply don't know how or if 12 of the first 14 presidents used bibles at their inaugurations.
What does it add up to? Not much.
* And I presume less entertaining.
** Don't get me started.