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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Midnight oaths for governors are only a surprise to the ignorant.

California Governor Ronald Reagan, taking the oath of office at 12.10 am, January 2, 1967

North Carolina Constitution, Article III 
Sec. 2.  Governor and Lieutenant Governor: election, term, and qualifications. 
(1)        Election and term.  The Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State in 1972 and every four years thereafter, at the same time and places as members of the General Assembly are elected. Their term of office shall be four years and shall commence on the first day of January next after their election and continue until their successors are elected and qualified [emphasis added].

There's no dumbass quite as much fun to skewer as a willfully ignorant one, so I consider it a New Year's gift from NC discount store magnate Art Pope's dimestore think tank, Civitas Institute, to read this on Facebook- penned by no less than the tank's commander, Francis X. DeLuca:

Roy Copper [sic] will literally take the oath of office to become North Carolina’s next governor in the dark. He has scheduled his swearing-in for just after midnight on January 1, 2017, as allowed by the NC Constitution. The midnight swearing-in ceremony is not the only thing cloaked in darkness as Governor-elect Roy Cooper takes office this weekend...
DeLuca goes on to jabber about not knowing who the Governor-elect's appointees are, and we can heap that steaming pile of crap to the side for another day.

Lots of dolts, zanies, mountebanks, and moon-calves are in Peak Dudgeon over the idea that Roy Cooper will be sworn into office in a dark room- "literally" as De Luca shrills. Evil is taking over, one moped. Is it illegal? I asked. No one has answered (the answer is no).

I've challenged DeLuca to prove it, since he says it is literally true and he knows it to be so, when it isn't. While I wait for a retraction, let's have some fun with the notion of gubernatorial skulduggery exemplofied by midnight swearing-in ceremonies:

Republican Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky was sworn in a few minutes after midnight in a special ceremony on December 8, 2015. So was his predecessor, Democrat Steve Beshear, four years earlier.

New York governors' terms begin at midnight January 1. They've been sworn in then for decades. Here's an account of Eliot Spitzer's ceremony in 2007. Here's an account of Governor Herbert Lehman's midnight oath in 1935. The current governor, Andrew Cuomo, was sworn in at midnight in 2015.

West Virginia Governor Robert Wise took his oath after midnight in 2001.

Republican Governor Jim Gibbons of Nevada was sworn in- "seconds after midnight", one paper put it- on January 1, 2007. He was concerned over a nonexistent terror attack.

Delaware Governor Jack Markell, a Democrat, was sworn in at a midnight ceremony in 2009.

Republican Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico was swoen in a few minutes after midnight January 1, 2011. Then she won re-election, and she did it again on January 1, 2015.

The Governor of Guam was sworn in at midnight on January 3, 2011.

Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio was sworn in during a midnight ceremony in January 2015. Republican Governor Bob Taft, also of Ohio, did the same in 1999.

The idea behind all of this is that there be continuity in government. That's why, when Vice President Calvin Coolidge got a telegram advising him of the death of President Harding, he took the oath as president from his father, a justice of the peace, at 2.47 am August 5, 1923.

That's also why seven presidents took their oaths in private because inauguration day fell on a Sunday: Monroe (1821); Taylor (1849); Hays (1877); Wilson (1917); Eisenhower (1957); Reagan (1985) and Obama (2013).

There can be other reasons for midnight ceremonies as well. In 1988 the administration of President Ronald Reagan had to issue repeated and strenuous denials that significant events in his life were guided by astrology. The Los Angeles Times reported,
There has been speculation about the Reagans' interest in astrology for years. In 1967, when Reagan took office as governor of California, his habit of reading astrological columns provoked speculation that his post-midnight inauguration was timed to suit the stars. His first term officially began at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 2, 1967, and Reagan's aides announced that he would take the oath of office at 12:10 a.m. 
Outgoing California Gov. Edmund G. (Pat) Brown thought the hour peculiar and attributed it to Reagan's belief in the line-up of the stars. Several Los Angeles astrologers offered the same view.

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