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Hatoyama didn't dress for success

In a picture taken on April 4, 2010, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama eats noodles during a meet-the-people barbecue clad in a multi-colored shirt at his official residence in Tokyo.  (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
In a picture taken on April 4, 2010, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama eats noodles during a meet-the-people barbecue clad in a multi-colored shirt at his official residence in Tokyo. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images) (Jiji Press - Afp/getty Images)
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By Al Kamen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 5, 2010

We've gotten several phone calls from Japanese reporters about Wednesday's resignation of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama after just eight months in office. The reporters implied that a mid-April Loop column -- the one dubbing him "the biggest loser" at President Obama's nuclear summit and referring to him as "hapless" and "increasingly loopy" -- somehow hastened his departure.

Seriously, now. We have photographic evidence that blatant sartorial criminality was without question the proximate cause of his demise -- okay, in addition to that dispute with Washington over the U.S. military base in Okinawa. A photo taken April 4, 10 days before the column in question appeared, shows the prime minister at what was described as a "meet the people" barbecue decked out in a 1980s multicolored shirt.

The checkered shirt has one yellow sleeve and one blue one, a red front, a purple back, and green cuffs. Hatoyama wore a black turtleneck underneath. The outfit prompted a prominent fashion critic to wonder in print whether there was "anyone able to stop him wearing such a thing." (In this country, that shirt alone would have been grounds for impeachment.) "His ideas and philosophy are old," the critic wrote in a national magazine. "Japan is facing a crisis, and we can't overcome it with a prime minister like this."

Worse, Hatoyama was a serial couture offender. In May, he visited Okinawa, sporting what a BBC report called a "garish yellow shirt, the color adopted by local protesters" to tell them the base would indeed be staying on the island after all, despite his campaign pledge to get it moved. On another occasion, he wore a white shirt with red hearts that he apparently thought went smashingly with a pink blazer.

The Loop column may have caused a fuss in Japan -- apparently in part because readers mistook it to be the official view of The Washington Post itself -- and in part because our assessment fit a narrative that was already gathering steam. The train wreck was inevitable.

Work, don't run

Who knew the White House had a special employment office for people challenging administration-favored candidates in Democratic primaries? It's the Special Handler for Offering Virtual Employment, or SHOVE. But the once-secret operation is off to a terrible start. Could be even worse than the Orioles' 0-21 run in '08.

First there was that truly weird -- and still murky -- offer of a job to Rep. Joe Sestak (D) so he'd drop out of the Senate race in Pennsylvania and let incumbent Arlen Specter (R-turned-D) lose in November to Rep. Pat Toomey (R).

But Sestak couldn't take any administration job unless he abandoned not only his Senate race but also his House seat (separation of powers and all that). So, what did they offer him? Secretary of defense? Vice president?

Then the SHOVE dangled three jobs before their non-favorite Senate candidate in Colorado, Andrew Romanoff: deputy administrator for Latin America at the Agency for International Development, director of the AID office for democracy and head of the backwater U.S. Trade Development Agency.

Romanoff may have once been interested in AID , maybe because he didn't know it was the equivalent of a failed state, but he must have figured that out.

Guys. You gotta offer jobs worth quitting for: For example, special assistant to the ambassador to Italy for restaurant selection. Who'd turn that down? Let's see: Summer visits to Lake Como or to Ordway, Colo.?

Do we know? Dunno.

Stop worrying. The government's getting a handle on the extent of the gulf oil spill. The U.S. Geological Survey now has "preliminary estimates" of the daily flow of oil from the BP well at between 12,000 and 19,000 barrels per day. But the new report cautions, "To the extent that there are other unknown processes that remove oil naturally from the system that are unaccounted for, there may be 'unknown unknowns' in this analysis as well." So there could be more oil gushing out. Great.


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