Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Former ag secretary says he was 'the most assaulted Cabinet member in history,' by food when it became issue

Dan Glickman, who was a Kansas congressman
before becoming U.S. secretary of agriculture,
checked out a wheat field. (Photo via Politico)
Why would the secretary of agriculture be "the most assaulted Cabinet member in history," as Dan Glickman, who held the office under Bill Clinton, writes in Politico Magazine? Because food is easy to throw.

"I have never heard of any past agriculture secretaries being subjected to the same volume of projectiles as I was during my time at USDA. To my knowledge nobody has had any memory of a Cabinet member who came close to my record," writes Glickman, a congressman before and a movie-industry lobbyist after his time at the Agriculture Department, from 1995 to early 2001. 

At the time, "There was a large debate about organic food. Activist groups were energized on food issues, and for whatever reason, I bore the brunt of it," Glickman writes. "I had all sorts of things tossed at me . . . organic seeds by naked men and women in Rome, bison guts in Montana and tofu pies in D.C. It turns out people really care about their food. In a way, I think my career was a preview of the incivility that would eventually engulf our politics; only instead of barrages of hateful tweets and public harassment, I got food thrown in my face."

The job is less risky now, at least in a physical sense. "In the years that followed my tenure at USDA, Cabinet members’ security increased, so I’m sure Cabinet members, including the Agriculture secretary, are subject to much less of these kinds of attacks now."

Glickman is a fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center. His entertaining piece is excerpted from his new book, Laughing at Myself: My Education in Congress, on the Farm, and at the Movies.

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