Presidential Mis-Quotes – Deliberate or Mistaken?

Is it any wonder many Americans do not know and are not learning of America’s history and civics, when the President of the United States, in a public address, demonstrates that he does not himself know what the official motto of the United States is?

It’s actually quite simple.  The motto of the United States is, “In God We Trust.”  It’s printed on our currency and appears on many of our coins.  Even if this fact had slipped the President’s mind as he was speaking last November to a crowd at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, all he would have had to have done to refresh his memory would have been to pull out a dollar bill.  Of course, with the huge White House staff — including a multi-person research and speech-writing team — at his beck and call, one would expect that his staff would have noted the correct motto for his speech in the first place.

What is interesting, however, is that the President might have deliberately mis-cited the motto in order to make a political point.  You see, Mr. Obama said in his speech that the motto of the United States was “E Pluribus Unum” – correctly translated by him as “From Many, One.”  The President then made the point that our country’s motto is similar to Indonesia’s (which translates as, “Unity in Diversity”).  Because he was speaking to a predominately Muslim audience in a predominately Muslim country, he perhaps did not want to offend by appearing to bring religion into his speech by quoting the actual, official U.S. motto rather than the previous one, which until changed by official act of Congress in 1956, was “E Pluribus Unum.”

However, the President commits a grave disservice to our country, and especially to our youth, by either deliberately mis-citing our motto, or by not knowing what our official motto is.

Several Members of Congress have written to the President complaining of his apparent ignorance on this matter, and offered to meet with him to explain the motto.  They have received no reply from the White House.

The Jakarta speech was not the first example of the President deliberately or ignorantly mis-citing historic documents.

On October 18th, President Obama errantly quoted the Declaration of Independence at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. His version of the document apparently read, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that each of us are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Noticeably missing from his quote was the reference to the “Creator,” which term appears clearly and prominently in the Declaration.

This President, or any other of our nation’s chief executives, is entitled to make whatever points he wishes in any speech he desires; he can pander to any audience he’s of a mind to.  But the President of the United States should not be permitted to deliberately mis-quote our founding documents, our official motto, or other official documents.

Of course, to be fair, if Obama truly did make these oratorical missteps in error, then the remedy is simple – fire his speechwriters and hire new ones; men and women who will set a better example for our citizens by respecting and honoring our history and heritage.

- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

85 comments Add your comment

Doc

January 21st, 2011
5:29 am

So are you back now from hanging out with your criminal buddy ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier in Haiti? Why don’t you write about your visit there for us as reported elsewhere in the AJC?

Once a republican thug always a republican thug. They never met a dictator they didn’t like unless they disrupt the oil supply.

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Techfan

January 21st, 2011
6:09 am

Bob: You’re getting a little too close to a chalkboard and tin foil hat territory.

GB

January 21st, 2011
7:29 am

This troubling trend started with the first paragraph of Obama’s inaugural address, when he said he was the 44th person to take the oath as president of the United States. He is the 43rd, of course, as one man, Grover Cleveland, took the oath twice. A small but telling error. Why doesn’t the president know this? Why don’t all the people who composed, edited and reviewed his speech know this fact?

freethinker

January 21st, 2011
7:29 am

Kinda like those statements by Georgie and Cheney that we had no way of knowing Al-Qaida was going to attack us -over 3,000 people died for that misstatement

Kilgore

January 21st, 2011
7:45 am

Irony rules this blog. Bob Barr is the Chicken Little of the AJC. We all know that. He’s always going on and on about 1984 and how big government will be the ruin of us all, even to the point of feeding us ourselves and forcing us to wear fashion faux-pas scarves during an entire movie as we realize that soylent freen is made from…..ugh……PEOPLE!!!!

Now, he’s defending the very language from which Big Brother was born: opiated mantras and obnoxious bromides which were coined for their poetic beauty, not for there intrinsic civic worth.

That Bob Barr is a hack is not surprising. What demeans us all is that he seems to form a thought and like a gum ball machine, another writer places a metaphor in his ear and out comes another vapidity.

Independent

January 21st, 2011
7:49 am

Bob – the President said our motto was “E Pluribus Unum”, not “the official motto of the United States as established by Congress in 1956 is ‘In God We Trust’”. My research indicates that there were several mottoes of the US and E Pluribu Unum was one of them. No it is not the OFFICIAL mooto now. I think the President was just making a point about ONE US motto being similar to Indonesia. He may or may not have known that the OFFICIAL motto was different.

DavidEm

January 21st, 2011
7:54 am

Does anyone really give a flying fark about this nit-picking?

Are you trying to cast aspersions on his patriotism, or to say that he is insufficiently religious?

And I love the comment about Grover Cleveland. How could anyone NOT be mindful of the very significant fact that G.C. took the oath of office twice? “A small but telling error.” Really???

carlosgvv

January 21st, 2011
8:07 am

Now that we are informed of the President’s error, I know you will review all recent Republican speeches and inform us promptly of any errors found.

q

January 21st, 2011
8:54 am

The President did not want to mention God out of fear of offending the Muslim community. They would have prefered Allah. Now that is how I see it. As 99% of Americans think of God as the supreme being he should have used that name. Politics is strange, I write to Congressional represenatives occasionally and they do not reply if it appears that it will cost them a vote. That was some get-to-gether at the White House the other night.

Patrick

January 21st, 2011
8:57 am

Hey Bob, weren’t you that kid who always reminded the teacher that she had forgotten to assign homework over the weekend? I’ll bet you miss getting beat up every Friday afternoon….

Joel Edge

January 21st, 2011
9:20 am

I suggest we change the motto to something current to liberal American thought and easier for our CNC to remember.
I suggest “Duuuh!”

Happy Friday

January 21st, 2011
9:36 am

E Pluribus Unum is far more inspiring and relevant than “In god we trust”. We’re not Americastan.

Joel Edge

January 21st, 2011
9:43 am

“In god we trust” fits the bill. Try some other ones: “In Washington we trust” or “In luck we trust” or “Dear Lord, please save us”. I prefer the former. Can’t blame Barry, I wouldn’t want to standing in front of a bunch Muslims and quote anything vaguely christian.

Techfan

January 21st, 2011
9:47 am

Bush 41 and Bush 43?

Vinny

January 21st, 2011
9:51 am

Give Barry a break – He was pandering to liberals and everyone knows they don’t believe in God.

jconservative

January 21st, 2011
9:54 am

“Noticeably missing from his quote was the reference to the “Creator,”

It is not “the Creator” Bob. It is “their Creator”. Huge difference is meaning.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,…”

Dr. Pangloss

January 21st, 2011
9:57 am

When Sarah Palin said that Alaska produces 20% of the nation’s energy, did Bob jump on that?

It’s really less than 3%.

Not Surprised

January 21st, 2011
11:10 am

Enter your comments here

Not Surprised

January 21st, 2011
11:11 am

Perhaps he had a coach as his Civics teacher.

BobURanIDIOT

January 21st, 2011
11:15 am

Bob, you are an idiot. Most of you idiots don’t know GOD, you just like to hold him up in awe; when you feel the need.

Why put IN GOD WE TRUST on Money; God has no use for money. It’s almost as if you hold money up as an idol.

Halftrack

January 21st, 2011
11:17 am

It is no wonder about Obummer and Progressives. They do not acknowledge there is a creator. Obummer has left this out of his Declaration of Independence quotes on speeches in the past. These are done on purpose. The truth sets one free and progressives want to control you.

Barack

January 21st, 2011
11:20 am

ryan v

January 21st, 2011
11:23 am

Pretty sure the solidly Muslim crowd would not have been offended by ‘In God We Trust’. Everyone seems to be making the false assumption that everyone interprets that as ‘In God We Trust’. I’m pretty sure if the President had said IGWT their would have been quite a bit of nodding going on cause guess what? Muslims actually trust God too.

Real American

January 21st, 2011
11:27 am

Halftrack: Another conservtive hypocrite, when will you right winger religion people understand no body whats to hear about you belief, you are the same people spoke the bible in one hand and lynched people with the other, your credibility is not that good.
Please stop talking about Declaration of Independence quotes, those slave owners of the Declaration mean nothing to most Americans, you are the same people that is fighting poor people on health care issues, please stop it hypocrites Rep.

Bob'llGetchaWithAGotcha

January 21st, 2011
11:37 am

Grow up Bob. Is this the best you can offer? Is there nothing of substance in your commentary? Why not run for congress (again) and impeach the man. That’s a better gotcha than this drivel.

Patriot

January 21st, 2011
11:56 am

Bob Barr for president! B~)

Davo

January 21st, 2011
12:14 pm

Morbid Curiosity Leading Many Voters To Support Palin
http://www.theonion.com/articles/morbid-curiosity-leading-many-voters-to-support-pa,18865/

It’s funny cause it’s true.

TruthBe

January 21st, 2011
12:23 pm

Muslim Obama doesn’t believe in the JESUS CHRIST the LORD thy GOD.

Real Athens

January 21st, 2011
12:26 pm

Q:
99%? Really?

You are woefully uninformed. The percentage of Americans (who practice religion) and who identify as Christian is at 76% (in a rapid decline since 1990).

And gee, I can’t imagine why. Maybe the intolerance, arrogance, violence (= hypocrisy) espoused by “Christians” here daily has something to do with it? Perhaps.

Hey Bob, in 1956 the state of Georgia added the St. Andrews Cross to the GA state flag to protest the passage of Brown vs. the Board of Education. Gives some clue to the mindset then.

What does anything the a “legislature” passed in 1956 have to do with the intention of the founding fathers in 1782. They chose E Pluribus Unum.

I have nothing against real Christians – take for example, Alvin C. York – but there aren’t too many around today. They certainly don’t reside in the “megachurch voting blocs” that have become so prevalent today.

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. . . . For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time” (Matthew ;24 NIV).

Geous

January 21st, 2011
12:42 pm

Why is this surprising? This comes from the same clown that wouldn’t cover his heart during the pledge or wear a flag lapel pin during half his campaign. He hates the United States, which is why he’s been spending all his time during these past two years running around the world apologizing for us.

Partisay

January 21st, 2011
12:51 pm

the President commits a grave disservice to our country, and especially to our youth, by either deliberately mis-citing our motto, or by not knowing what our official motto is.

“grave” disservice? Somehow I don’t think it that grave of a situation. Think you are exagerating there a little?

Several Members of Congress have written to the President complaining of his apparent ignorance on this matter, and offered to meet with him to explain the motto. They have received no reply from the White House.

Good. He has much more important things to do than meet with members of Congress over such a trivial thing. And I would think those members of Congress would have more important things to be considering.

ridiculous……

Tommy

January 21st, 2011
1:02 pm

Bob, why don’t you keep hypocritical mouth shut, and go pay for another abortion for your wife.. loser.

Real Athens

January 21st, 2011
1:07 pm

Geous, I mean Glenn Beck, uh, Bill O’Reilly, um, Rush Limbaugh, er, Sean Hannity — I can’t keep it straight — they all say the same thing.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 21st, 2011
1:11 pm

Perhaps he had a coach as his Civics teacher.

The best History teacher that I ever had was a coach. Whenever he was teaching us about any event or time period, he’d go over what was in the text book, then he’d say, that’s one view, now this is what the opposition’s viewpoint was. Most every other history teacher I had, taught like whatever happened had the support of 99% of the people, which is never the case.

BRW

January 21st, 2011
1:11 pm

Until the KKK and our brothers in Christ decided to force their religious mandate on the masses by changing the motto to include their GOD, the motto “E Pluribus Unum” was much more in line with what the founding fathers intended. The new motto? Not so much….

BRW

January 21st, 2011
1:14 pm

Geous, he just hates what the world sees in you and the GOP and wants to assure them there is still some compassion and intelligence in this great country you are trying to ruin.

BRW

January 21st, 2011
1:22 pm

q, open your mind there are different languages out there……..yahweh…..allah…….god…….equal…….get it?

George W

January 21st, 2011
1:46 pm

Miss me yet?

The Snark

January 21st, 2011
1:55 pm

Wow, Bob, way to nail the big issue of our time.

What next? A withering critique of the President’s tie selection?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 21st, 2011
2:15 pm

Great essay. Funny to imagine that Chauncey makes George W look like the intellectual sophisticate. (Now that I have read W’s book, I will affirm that he was one of the half dozen smartest presidents in our history. Other than his chapter on TARP, he was persuasive. And there is no doubt he really wrote it – it sounds just like his speech pattern)

BRW

January 21st, 2011
2:27 pm

Ragnar, Only you could imagine that…..good drugs lately?

Bart Brown

January 21st, 2011
2:57 pm

Bob Barr, easily on an intellectual, spiritual, and especially moral sub-par with Über-Fascist pals Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck actually has a SYNDICATED column in what’s supposed to be one of the major newspapers in the US? That IS depressing.

BTW, did you know that sometime in the early 1990’s, Barack Obama told his mother he’d scraped his right knee, but it was really his left? That alone is grounds for impeachment — in the New Confederacy of which troglodyte Bob Barr is already a high-ranking (and I DO mean RANK) official.

I’m SO glad I no longer live in the South. When the Sister Southern States seceded in 1861, Lincoln should have let them go. Given the South’s native inventive genius, the civilization of the Confederate States of America in 2011 would be about on a par with that of Somalia or Afghanistan, with an economy about equal to Haiti’s. Anytime you folks want to leave again, I hope everyone speeds you on your way. The downside: think what a HUGE “virtual fence” WE’D have to build to keep Southern “illegals” out!

AmVet

January 21st, 2011
3:22 pm

“I will affirm that he was one of the half dozen smartest presidents in our history.”

Hysterical laughter…

Roekest

January 21st, 2011
3:25 pm

Bob,

I was already beginning to think you’ve lost your marbles, but your recent trip to Haiti to pal around with a ruthless dictator takes the cake. Take a long walk off a short pier. You’ll never get my vote again.

Brad

January 21st, 2011
3:29 pm

Barr, could you possibly go any further out of your way to sling mud at Obama? It’s a total non-issue.

Brad

January 21st, 2011
3:52 pm

Study: Conservatives have larger ‘fear center’ in brain

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/conservatives-fear-center-brain/

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 21st, 2011
3:54 pm

Dear BRW @ no imagination required – one needs only to read the book. I know most leftists would not be interested in hearing his view of the conflicts that arose, as you are more comfortable with analysis on the level of,”this war is lost!”

Presbo

January 21st, 2011
4:06 pm

hotlanta

January 21st, 2011
4:19 pm

Geous, Bush wore a flag pin, covered his heart while the anthem was playing and told a bunch of lies everyday. White folks are crazy they fall for anything. The KKK put their hands over their hearts wearing white sheets as well while hanging black men in trees.