I have always had a vaguely positive fealing about Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona and current holder of one of the Official Thankless Jobs of modern America, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Now I know why!
A profile of Napolitano in a recent issue of The New Republic includes the following passage:
As Coast Guard One speeds east, Napolitano sits reading quietly. Looking to decompress, the secretary has cranked up her iPod and cracked open a new book. But just a few pages into Impeached, David O. Stewart’s account of President Andrew Johnson’s bloody battles with Congress, Napolitano starts chuckling. Listen to this, she instructs two aides and me: “Once, told that an assassin awaited him at a public meeting, Johnson started his speech by placing a pistol before him. After describing the threat, Johnson roared out, ‘I do not say to him, “Let him speak,” but “let him shoot!”‘ After long seconds of silence, Johnson remarked with satisfaction, ‘It appears I have been misinformed.'”
The secretary is obviously tickled by the gumption of our seventeenth president: No cowering. No dithering. Just plop the gun down and call the bastard out.
Now, I’m not sure that Andrew Johnson should be the Secretary’s role model in all respects, or even in very many. But that certainly was one of his better moments.