Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 5, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

NAME THE CABINET!....The endless stream of surveys demonstrating how ignorant we all are can admittedly get a bit tiresome, but sometimes one of them really hits you between the eyes:

Most Americans are unable to identify even a single department in the United States Cabinet, according to a recent national poll of 800 adults. Specifically, the survey found that a majority (58%) could not provide any department names whatsoever....No respondent named all nineteen correctly and only 1% were able to name at least 11 departments within the Presidents Cabinet.

This would bring tears to the eyes of Mr. Beglinger, my 8th grade civics teacher, who taught us the following mnemonic: ST. DAPIACLE HUT. This was not only the entire cabinet (as of 1972), but it was even in order of presidential succession:

  • State

  • Treasury

  • Defense

  • Attorney General (Dept. of Justice)

  • Postmaster General

  • Interior

  • Agriculture

  • Commerce

  • Labor

  • Health, Education, and Welfare

  • Housing and Urban Development

  • Transportation

This, he told us, was the updated version of ST. WAPIACL, which he himself had learned as a boy.

Since then, of course, the Postmaster General has gone the way of the dodo bird, HEW has been split into HHS and Education, and we've added Energy, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. The resulting mnemonic, I suppose, is ST. DAIACL HUTEEVS, which seems a bit unwieldy. Still, any port in a storm.

(And for those keeping score at home, the full list of 19 "cabinet level" positions includes EPA, Trade Representative, Drug Control, and OMB. This explains the failure of a single person to name all 19 since, after all, who the hell knows this stuff?)

<cheapshot> I wonder how many of these cabinet departments George Bush can name? </cheapshot>

Kevin Drum 6:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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