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Dance of the Cabinet Secretaries

One of my favorite parts of presidential transitions is watching a bored media fake interest in tertiary cabinet secretaries that they’ve been ignoring for four years. Yesterday, I actually saw an announcement of the departure of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis reported with the ‘BREAKING’ prefix, which is a little like calling 911 for a hangnail. The vast majority of Americans wouldn’t know the Secretary of Labor from the Secretary of Labor’s secretary. 

The speculation on Solis, by the way, is that she’s leaving Washington to come back home to Southern California and run for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In one respect, I find that laudable — far too few people who taste power in Washington ever go back home to make a difference in their community. On the other hand, you have to pity those other Board members. How many arguments is she going to try to win with “When I was at the White House …”?

When it comes to non-story stories from the transition, however, the controversy surrounding President Obama’s nominee to be the next Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, is the best. What’s that? You haven’t heard about it yet? Well, brace yourself …

Jack Lew has a bad signature. And if he’s confirmed, it’s going on your money:

Here’s Kevin Roose at New York magazine unloading on it:

If Lew is confirmed as Treasury secretary, his signature will occupy the lower-right-hand spot on U.S. paper currency. And that signature, which was widely mocked when it surfaced on a September 2011 memorandum, is legitimately crazy.

Here are some things it reminds us of:

– a Slinky that has lost its spring

– one of those Crazy Straws you get at Six Flags

– Sally Brown’s hair in Peanuts

– a slip of paper in Office Max that people use to try out new pens

Clearly, Lew will need to upgrade his penmanship, à la Geithner, before he even thinks about touching the dollar bill. Minting a trillion-dollar coin seems absolutely reasonable, as fiscal policy plans go, compared to having this childish loop-de-loop plastered all over the legal tender of the United States.

Your dogged press, ladies and gentleman.

By the way, not to indulge this banality too much, but I do have a serious question on this front: how much stock do you actually put in someone’s handwriting? I tend to think of handwriting analysis as one step removed from palm reading. I have absolutely horrid script, for instance — my signature always looks like it was executed in the midst of a bear mauling — but that owes to the fact that I have a tremor which keeps me from holding a pen still. Your average handwriting analyst, however, is probably going to look at my signature and deduce some deep personal meaning from what’s essentially a neurological defect. Isn’t it possible that Jack Lew just signs things this way because he’s a really busy guy that probably has to sign more things in a day than most of us do in a month?