Washington: When US President Barack Obama announced that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew was his pick to be the next US treasury secretary, it of course drew plenty of media attention, but not all of it for the reasons one might expect.
Lew’s indecipherable signature, a series of loops and squiggles, could grace American currency if he is confirmed by the US Senate, and it is causing quite a stir.
The Washington Post called it an “odd loopy signature” while NBC News questioned whether it “might be the world’s worst”.
Obama even joked that he “considered rescinding” the offer “to appoint Lew” due to his signature.
“Jack assures me that he is going to work to make at least one letter legible,” Obama said about Lew’s signature.
A handwriting expert in the US told RIA Novosti that Lew’s signature shows he can appear quiet but will “come on strong” in his new position.
“There is a lot of symbolism in signatures,” said Sheila Lowe, president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, especially in illegible autographs like Lew’s that tell people that “they don’t want you to see anything”.
Lew’s signature starts off with a barely recognisable “J” proceeded by several loops and then a large “W” that can almost be deciphered at the end, showing that he can appear reserved, but also assertive when need be, Lowe said.
Overall, the message that Lowe can decipher from Lew’s squiggles is that he is a private person and the way he fashions his letters is done to “keep you out”.
“At the end of his signature, there is a long extended stroke and that would be like if you extended your arm to keep someone away,” she said.
“It can be seen as another level of keeping people at bay.”
There has been some speculation that Lew might try to make his signature more legible if printed on US currency like current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner did in the past.
Lowe said this was probably “quite difficult” since “changing your handwriting is like changing an aspect of your personality”.
“It was probably very painful for him because he had a very stylish logo, which hid a lot about him and then he had to make it legible and he had to expose himself,” she said.
Lowe has also analysed the handwriting of Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
She said Obama’s handwriting style is “great, especially for a left-handed male since that group has the worst writing”.
“His writing shows true empathy and that he is not a pushover,” she said. “You can tell he really stops and considers before he does anything.”
In contrast, she said Putin’s tightly written signature looks “like a tank” that is “inexorable” and “just mows down everything in its path”.