After more than a year of arduous political debates, and after many seemingly intractable parliamentary stalemates, President Obama finally signed the health care reform bill on March 23, 2010.
One pen, two pens… Obama used 22 pens to sign this epoch-making document—$938 billion in medical insurance bills. However, what is surprising is that President Obama has obsessive-compulsive disorder? Or is the quality of the White House’s pen bad, let him change it?
In fact, the president is following an unwritten tradition in Washington. The use of different pens to sign documents is to demonstrate the dignity of the legislation, which can be traced back to the Roosevelt era. The reason is very simple. The pen that signed the important documents is itself a “relic,” and the White House can give it as a gift to the supporters of the bill. The more pens the president uses, the more “gifts” he sends. In 1964, when Linden Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he was said to have used 75 pens. One of them was given to Martin Luther King.
However, there are some problems with a lot of pens at the same time, such as inconsistent writing, font tilt and so on. Obama joked in an interview: “I have practiced many times. How to slowly write your own name or technology!”
So, what about the fate of these pens? Some will be displayed in museums, and some recipients will proudly place them in their homes or offices. Some pens will even come back to use: In the 2008 presidential election, the candidate John McCain vowed to use the pens that President Reagan had used to sign documents that cut the federal budget.
Not every president can learn to sign at the same time with different pens. For example, President Bush likes to sign a decree with a pen, and then give several pens that have never been touched as a souvenir to others. Even the extraordinary Homeland Security Law cannot allow President Bush to condescend to be expensive. Folk rumors said that after the decree was signed, President Bush secretly sneaked the pen into his pocket.