A Former Ag Secretary Got Good at Ducking Food

Dan Glickman, who served under Clinton, lays claim to being 'most assaulted Cabinet member'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2021 10:00 AM CDT
He Lays Claim to Title of 'Most Assaulted Cabinet Member'
Dan Glickman in 2009.   (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

If you had to name the "most assaulted Cabinet member in history," the name Dan Glickman probably wouldn't be at the top of the list. But in an excerpt of his new memoir in Politico Magazine, Glickman lays claim to that unwanted title. He served as agriculture secretary under Bill Clinton from 1995 to 2001, and he explains that he took office "at an interesting time" because a robust debate about organic food was just getting underway. Food activism became a thing, and Glickman—as the face of the White House food policies—bore the brunt in a very tactile way. That is, people kept throwing food at him. He ticks off a number of incidents, starting with the time naked protesters pelted him with organic seeds in Rome. But he also got hit with bison guts in Wyoming, carbonated soda during a House hearing, and a tofu pie in DC.

"I have never heard of any past Agriculture secretaries being subjected to the same volume of projectiles as I was during my time at USDA," writes Glickman. "To my knowledge nobody has had any memory of a Cabinet member who came close to my record." The piece is generally light-hearted, as he recounts worried calls from his mom after each incident, along with his improving reflexes as the assaults became more common. The tofu pie, for instance, scored more of a direct hit on Health and Human Services chief Donna Shalala because Glickman ducked. But the former ag secretary also sees in all this hints of a changing political culture. "In a way, I think my career was a preview of the incivility that would eventually engulf our politics; only instead of barrages of hateful tweets and public harassment, I got food thrown in my face." Read the full excerpt. (More Department of Agriculture stories.)

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