After President Obama signed the first official document of his second term Monday, a presidential proclamation commemorating the inauguration as a “National Day of Hope and Resolve,” Senator Harry Reid couldn’t wait to claim a souvenir.
Obama, standing with the six members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and Vice President Joe Biden, signed the order using multiple pens, as is customary. That’s when Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, got a little grabby. He attempted to snag one of the pens resting next to the bill, but it seemed as if these pens weren’t up for grabs – New York Senator Chuck Schumer quickly admonished his colleague with all the gusto of a parent chiding his youngster: “No Harry.”
Obama, overhearing, swiveled around to the three Senators (Schumer, Reid and Tenn. Sen. Lamar Alexander) after shaking hands with the three Representatives gathered on the other side of his desk. “Harry, are you stealing the pens?” he asked.
Reid, embarrassed, fiddled with the writing instrument for a few seconds while Obama came up with a contingency plan. “I can get you one, man,” Obama said light-heartedly before pulling out a fresh pen from inside his suit pocket. It’s something of tradition for the beneficiaries of a proclamation to receive a pen from the president’s hand, but apparently these were not for the dole.
Joe Biden, who no doubt has received or pilfered a pen or two of his own in the past, got the last laugh: “Now that one is actually worth something, Harry,” he quipped, to general amusement. “Not government issue.”