This is the new U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, visiting troops at an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia, April 25, 2013.
I’m looking at him, standing with the mike in his hand, loose, erudite, comfortable inside his skin, and I’m thinking—politicians didn’t used to look like this. I mean, put an exposed brick wall behind him and he could pass at any comedy club from New York to Los Angeles. Look at him – can you imagine him doing a routine about airplane food? The baby that won’t stop crying in the seat behind him?
Can you imagine Lyndon B. Johnson doing a set at the laugh Factory? I don’t think so. Not Nixon, either. Reagan was the first president to use jokes to communicate policy, but even Reagan didn’t grab the mike and trot to center stage waving to the nice couple from Topeka at the front table.
It was probably Slick Willy that ruined the business for serious, no-nonsense politicians. Then Dubya turned the repartee itself into state policy. Everybody wanted to have a beer with Dubya. Nobody wanted to have a beer with Mitt—including Mitt, who doesn’t even touch coffee.
What is it about our culture that makes us prefer clowns to statesmen?
Is it too late to make Television illegal?
I thought about it the other day, watching President Obama entertaining the White House Correspondents Dinner. makes you forget he could actually order a drone to come take out your house. Not metaphorically – with Hellfire rockets. Why do we want the man who sends our children into harm’s way to be good at telling jokes? What does it say about him? That he must be the most callused man on the planet?
The official caption from the DOD says Secretary Hagel thanked the troops for their service and answered various questions including the expected effects of sequestration on the U.S. Air Force.
He’s there every night through Thursday…