I tend to be rather cynical about events like the
United We Serve kickoff,
in which cabinet secretaries let themselves be photographed doing
community service type jobs, such as Trade Representative Kirk feeding
homeless people at a soup kitchen, HUD secretary Donovan helping to
rebuild a home destroyed by hurricane Katrina, and so forth. I always
imagine them tossing their apron or gloves on the ground and rushing
off the moment the cameras have left.
But then there’s Rep. Tom Davis’s
to a radio show caller who said she couldn’t get health insurance
because she’s 60 years old and has diabetes. He started by saying that
he sympathizes with her, because hey, his 401(k) took a beating as
So maybe the sorts of photo-ops I mentioned above can be good, in that
they force people at the highest levels of government to mingle with
the hoi polloi and at least look like they’re doing something
approaching manual labor, for as long as the cameras are rolling.
And while they may be and remain patricians who will never have to do
another hour’s manual work in their life, and who will never want for
money, at least they may gain enough of a clue to realize that there
are people out there with real problems, ones that they can’t fix just
by finding a better stockbroker or cutting down on how often they eat
I hope that’s not too much to ask.