Senator Chuck Hagel has a great sense of humor, and he loves Halloween.
Two years ago, just before Halloween, Hagel showed up at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing chaired by then Committee Chairman Joe Biden in a “Joe Biden mask” urging those there to vote for him.
According to senior Hagel senate staff alumni, Hagel used to wear a chicken costume at Halloween years ago — and once dressed up as Colin Powell in a meeting to go see General Powell when he was serving as Secretary of State. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had to personally intervene to get Hagel into the building.
Hagel also wore a John McCain mask at a McCain event — and did this with Senator Pat Roberts too.
So, I returned the favor last night — appearing in a Joe Biden mask to introduce Senator Hagel to offer some levity in what was a very important dinner focused on Israel-Palestine issues at J Street’s big gala event.
Taylor Marsh loved it. So did Zbignew Brzezinski and House International Relations Committee Chairman Howard Berman — at least that’s what they said. The Tablet‘s Jesse Oxfeld thought it went over like a dead weight.**
Nonetheless, humor helps Washington move forward even when so many policy issues appear gridlocked and hopeless.
It takes political leaders like Hagel who can both be serious and focused — as well as fun — on both sides of the political aisle to make Washington a more constructive place.
— Steve Clemons
Update: Just got a note from Jesse Oxfeld who said that whether or not there was a “humor error” at the J Street dinner, his team had a “production error” and that Allison Hoffman actually wrote the piece.