President-elect Obama says he plans to use all three of his names when he takes the oath of office in January, giving voice to an unusual name that was rarely heard during the campaign expect by critics.
In his first post-election newspaper interview, with reporters from the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, Obama was asked: “Do you anticipate being sworn in as Barack Obama or Barack Hussein Obama?"
He replied: “I think the tradition is that they use all three names, and I will follow the tradition, not trying to make a statement one way or the other. I'll do what everybody else does.”
Harry Truman, of course, didn’t have a middle name - just an initial that didn’t stand for anything — and was sworn in as “Harry S. Truman.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gerald R. Ford took the oath using their middle initials.
The last three presidents have used their middle names: George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton and George Walker Bush. So did Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, in the hasty ceremony aboard Air Force One, went nameless — prompted to say only, “I do solemnly swear.”
The insertion of the name is a tradition not specified in the U.S. Constitution, which directs about the president in Article II: “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.’”
Obama’s middle name was largely taboo during the campaign, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) apologized it was used by Bill Cunningham, a talk-radio host who was introducing McCain at a rally in Cincinnati.
The Associated Press reported at the time, “Asked whether the use of Obama's middle name — the same as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein — is proper, McCain said: ‘No, it is not. Any comment that is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate.’”