They aren't called cabinet "secretaries" on account of their beautiful penmanship
Washington Post Loopmaster Al Kamen wants to know, "Is bad penmanship a prerequisite for President Obama's second-term Cabinet?" And the documentary evidence is reproduced above. To make matters more, er, picturesque, one of the above signatures is presumably going to be appearing on all our printed currency.
1. DEFENSE SECRETARY. . . um . . . er . . . CIA is OK?
Newly minted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed off on a letter to a former Senate colleague this week with a scrawly, nearly illegible version of his signature. We're pretty sure it's his signature, at least, but we arrived at that only by deduction, based on its placement. . . .
Here's a letter Hagel wrote to Sen. Barbara Boxer (he apparently wrote an identical one to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in response to a letter the two sent him, but only Boxer posted hers on her Web site).
Hagel added two friendly flourishes to the typewritten missive. In a slash of blue ink, he crossed out the formal address "Dear Senator Boxer" and replaced that with "Barbara." That part we could read.
But his sign-off was nearly impossible to decipher. A strangely formed "C" starts the affair, which breaks down into a strange mountain range in the middle and ends with a spastic-looking shape that one could only vaguely recognize as a "k." Could be, he was matching the informal tone of the opening by signing the note "Chuck."
Or not. Others who've looked at it thought it was his full signature. Other guesses included "eskimo," and one conspiracy-minded viewer read "CIA is OK." What say you, Loop fans? [Personally, I'm getting, um, "Cynde" -- though I admit that what I'm reading as an "n" could be, well, something else. -- Ed.]
2. TREASURY SECRETARY . . . uh, not a clue . . . LOOP-DE-LOOP?
"It appears" suggests Al, that Secretary eskimo "is giving Treasury Secretary Jack Lew a run for his money." But the SecDef, Al points out, "doesn't have to sign all the dollar bills the way Lew does." Which brings us back to a previous "In the Loop" report, in January, when OMB Director Lew was merely a leading candidate to replace outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Loop deputy Emily Heil reported that "the hard-charging Lew probably has a softer side," according to a handwriting analyst to whom she showed this sample.
The roundness of the characters in Lew's impossible-to-read John Hancock indicates that he just might be the cuddly sort, says Kathi McKnight, a professional graphologist, meaning someone who gleans people's personality traits from their writing. Such strokes are common among those who prefer a "softer" approach to problem-solving, she says.
The signers of the Constitution, by contrast, used very strong, angular lettering, McKnight notes -- not that leaders throughout history haven't used circular strokes like Lew's. Like who? "Well, Princess Di had very loopy writing," she says.
And the fact that Lew's signature is illegible may mean that he wants to keep his true identity unknown. "People with illegible signatures . . . like to keep some things private," she says.
Perhaps Lew will want to spruce up his signature before it makes its prime-time debut, as his predecessor did. Current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told NPR last year that he had to work on his penmanship to make his name legible enough to befit its place on U.S. currency.
AS FOR FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY GEITHNER . . .
Emily reported in April 2012 that "there's more to [his engraved] signature than you might think -- or at least, more thought went into it than typically goes into a name jotted on a piece of paper.
In an interview yesterday with Oregon Public Broadcasting, Geithner said he had to alter his typically un-readable scrawl to make it worthy of the nation’s currency.Emily noted further that despite searching far and wide, the Loop team had been unable to unearth any specimens of the secretary's self-professed illegible scrawl. "The examples of his handwriting we found were on official correspondence -- letters to Congress and the like -- on which Geithner apparently either used an auto-pen or was as careful as he was on the dollar."
He admitted that he has "a completely illegible scrawl that did not seem suitable for the dollar bill. So I had to change it so people could see my name."