The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

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March 13, 2013

What does that say? Hagel's handwriting mocked

WASHINGTON — Is bad penmanship a prerequisite for President Obama's second-term Cabinet?

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.

It appears he's giving Treasury Secretary Jack Lew a run for his money.

Lew, whose John Hancock will grace every dollar bill being issued, was roundly mocked (including by the Loop) for his loopy signature.

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."

Hagel doesn't have to sign all the dollar bills the way Lew does. But still, he has to put his pen to paper on occasion. Perhaps Obama should add a handwriting lesson to the next Cabinet meeting?

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