San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep took the
oath of office Tuesday while holding a 
Captain America shield. PHOTO/@SanJoseD4

During some Oakland City Council meetings, several elected officials routinely wear hats and shirts representing the city’s professional sports franchises. On one level it expresses their support and city pride. Conversely–and it’s not pointed out enough–it also suggests they might favor the franchises with public finances it may not deserve. But on the surface, most people expect their elected officials to dress the part and take their jobs seriously.

There’s that and then there’s what San Jose Councilmember Lan Diep did Tuesday when he took the oath of office while holding a limited-edition Captain America shield. Diep told numerous media outlets that he’s a fan of comic books and that he takes the job of representing San Jose’s District 4 seriously. Diep added, there was patriotic symbolism involved in the decision.

What if the thinly-framed Oakalnd Councilmember Dan Kalb showed up to his swearing-in wearing a Raiders uniform with full pads, tight silver pants and eye black? It would suggest a lack of appreciation for the job and, of course, look ridiculous.

Nerds, of course, rejoiced and Diep, himself, sounded like a comic book hero when he declared, “I think it’s a symbol of what’s positive in this darkened political landscape.” Diep continued his Captain America symbolism on Thursday when he tweeted from another account an ominous reference the fictitious villainous organization Hydra.

But following the events of the first few days of the Trump administration, these are not times for playing around within the realm of government. What Diep did Tuesday was one of the most stupid acts ever willfully performed in public by an elected politician. It’s a thought that someone might only half-heartily say, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I took the oath with a Captain America shield?” but would never actually do. It will haunt him for years and not only at re-election time, but his act has created for his opponents a target much larger than that emblazoned on his shield.

Alum Rock Union school board president
Khanh Tran wants all his ducks in order
before challenging Ro Khanna in CA17.

On a more conventional order of political strangeness emanating from the South Bay in recent days is the push by a potential opponent to new Rep. Ro Khanna to basically clear his political closet of any potential skeletons. Worse, according to a news report, Alum Rock school board president Khanh Tran, who is eyeing a run at Khanna in 2018, wants the public to pay for a wide-ranging audit of its business department. “I want to clean the books; I want to make sure everything is in order,” he told the Mercury News last week. “I don’t want any surprises.”

Give Tran some points for being honest about his motivations, but essentially asking taxpayers to uncover whether there is any hint of damning opposition research against his potential congressional campaign at the school district he oversees is ludicrous. The mere suggestion probably has inadvertently harmed his candidacy more than any potential problem within the school district’s administration. Not that Khanna is worried.