Is bad penmanship a prerequisite for President Obama’s second-term Cabinet?

Newly minted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel signed off on a letter to a former Senate colleague with a scrawly, nearly illegible version of his signature. Of course, we’re pretty sure it’s his signature, but we only arrived at that by deduction, based on its placement.

Looks like he’s giving Treasury Secretary Jack Lew a run for his money.

Lew, whose John Hancock will grace every dollar bill being issued, was roundly mocked (including by the Loop) for his loopy signature.

Here’s a letter Hagel wrote to Sen. Barbara Boxer (apparently, he wrote an identical one to to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in response to a letter the two sent him, but only Boxer posted hers on her Web site).

Hagel added two friendly flourishes to the typewritten missive. In a slash of blue ink, he crossed out the formal address, “Dear Senator Boxer,” replacing “Senator Boxer” with the more familiar “Barbara.” That part we could read.

But his sign-off was nearly impossible to decipher. A strangely formed “C” starts the affair, which breaks down into a strange mountain range in the middle, and ends with a spastic-looking shape that one could only vaguely recognize as a “k.” Could be, he was matching the informal tone of the opening by signing it “Chuck.”

Or not. Others who’ve looked at it thought it was his full signature. Other guesses included “eskimo” and one conspiracy-minded viewer read “CIA is OK.” What say you, Loop fans?

Hagel might not have to sign all the dollar bills like Lew does. But still, he has to put his pen to paper on occasion. Perhaps Obama should add a handwriting lesson to the next Cabinet meeting?