Barely a week goes by that the word "bureaucrat" doesn't appear in The Beltway Beat - given that we write regularly about bureaucrats and all that they accomplish for this great democracy of ours.
Now we are politely encouraged to refrain from repeating the word.
"We need to talk about government workers differently," advises the latest report from the Partnership for Public Service. "Using the word 'bureaucrat' has a devastatingly negative impact."
"The word 'bureaucrat' is used frequently by politicians, the media and others as if it were a neutral descriptor, when in fact it carries very strong editorial freight," the report states.
An accompanying study finds that 71 percent of Americans view federal government workers favorably, but that number drops a whopping 50-plus percentage points to a dismal 20 percent when those same people are referred to as "federal government bureaucrats."
Public servants rest assured: Regardless of how you've been labeled in the past, Americans have an overwhelming sense of the value of your service.
No less than 91 percent of respondents say that the jobs and duties of federal workers are important to their daily lives, and these favorable views cut evenly across both partisan and ideological lines.
BEATING THE DEVIL
It's no secret that, as a collective body, members of Congress have been threatened with extermination by al-Qaida terrorists.
Still, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is questioning security precautions undertaken by 72-year-old Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky Republican, a baseball Hall of Famer who became the first pitcher to record 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in both leagues.
The DSCC is disseminating local newspaper articles expressing surprise that Bunning, in his campaign for re-election, is actually "shunning" media attention, not even telling reporters in advance when he will visit a Kentucky community. Upon arrival, he supposedly makes certain that adequate security is in place, whether provided by state or local police officers.
Recently, for example, the senator received police escorts while in Danville and Lexington, while the Paducah Sun reported that its police force was on hand to guard against "al-Qaida or other terrorist attacks."
But one story being peddled by the DSCC in Washington, published in the Lexington Herald-Leader, questions whether Bunning is using the security to avoid "vocal Democrats" gathered on the campaign sidelines.
"This behavior isn't new for Bunning," opines the Herald-Leader, recalling that during his 1998 Senate race, two of the senator's sons "ran interference" for their father by planting themselves between him and reporters.
"Who is he trying to be protected from? A real terrorist threat or the voters of Kentucky?" Democratic state party Chairman Bill Garmer asks the newspaper.
Bunning says he doesn't care what his opponents say about him.
"My goal is to beat the devil out of whoever is my opponent," he says, terrorists obviously included.
A CLASSY LADY
Several hundred of her best friends gathered at the National Graduate University the other night to celebrate the induction of Dorothy Height into the Democracy Hall of Fame. In fact, Wednesday was "Dorothy Height Day" in the District.
Height, 92, was, for many years, president of the National Conference of Negro Women and was a contemporary of Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph and others in the civil rights movement. She sat on the stage, decked out in an aqua outfit with a matching hat - a stylish hat is her trademark - to listen to tributes from the likes of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; the Rev. Walter Fauntroy, a Baptist clergyman; Carol Schwartz of the D.C. Council; and Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Washington Times.
Pruden cited her as an example of "a classy lady of dignity and decorum in an era of growing coarseness and rampant vulgarity" and recalled her description of the vision that she pursued over her long career of expanding the rights of all: "We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system, but also for and with those who often have so much to give, but never get the opportunity."
Still taking the mound in Washington is Vic Gold, former press secretary to Vice President Spiro Agnew, and who collaborated with Lynne Cheney on the 1988 political novel "The Body Politic."
Earlier this week, in fact, Gold and Democratic political honcho Frank Mankiewicz today co-hosted another of their annual meetings of the Stan Musial Society of Washington, D.C., which they co-founded and named for the St. Louis Cardinals' baseball great.
"We're giving (former House Majority Leader) Dick Gephardt an award for fan loyalty," Gold says of the Missouri Democrat, who will retire at the end of this year.
So how did Gold and Mankiewicz, two men on opposite ends of the political spectrum, come to create the Stan Musial Society?
"Frank was a Bobby Kennedy and George McGovern man, and I was a (Barry) Goldwater and Agnew man, and obviously, we had very little in common politically, to say the least," Gold told The Beltway Beat. "He worked for Bobby Kennedy at the time I was working for Barry Goldwater, and he was working for George McGovern at the time I was working for Spiro Agnew.
"Well, one day I read in the paper that Frank was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, one of my great passions," he continues. "Frank is from Los Angeles, and I grew up in New Orleans, but in those prehistoric days there were only eight teams in baseball, and the Cardinals were the furthest western and southern team.
"Sports brings people together," Gold concludes the story. "The rule of the club is that politics stops at the door, for obvious reasons."
In fact, the society's 150 or so members are about equally divided on party lines. And Musial thinks so much of the club that he's come to Washington on several occasions to attend society gatherings.
"This is a great year for the Cardinals," Gold adds, "so we wanted to do something special. And (former House Minority Leader) Bob Michel (of Illinois) has agreed to present the award to Gephardt. And Bob Michel is a die-hard (Chicago) Cubs fan. What better show of bipartisanship?"
At a luncheon today, the society will present Gephardt with a red-and-white Cardinals team jersey, embroidered with his name and the number of years he served in Congress - 28.
We caught up yesterday with political pollster Frank Luntz, who's been keeping busy conducting election focus groups on MSNBC, and got his take on the swing vote and what President Bush will need to do to maintain his post-convention bounce until Election Day.
"Six things," Luntz replied.
1. Focus on 9/11. Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry can talk about leadership in times of crisis, but only President Bush can actually show it. Moreover, the events of 9/11 help explain the deficit, the jobs picture, and the need for continued investment in national security.
2. Emphasize that nothing is more important than national security. Without national security, you can't have personal security, economic security or financial freedom.
3. The two most important words when describing John Kerry: flip-flop. It's a believable charge and undercuts his credibility greatly. Swing voters want a leader with consistency, and the flip-flop charge is hard for Kerry to refute. Better yet, use his own words to prove the charge.
4. Tax simplification and lawsuit-abuse reform are important domestic priorities that should be talked about often between now and Election Day. Better yet, link the two to a better economy and more jobs.
5. Put former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger together on a plane and send them to campaign in swing states with swing voters.
6. Focus on the future rather than on the past. Swing voters are more interested in what Bush (and Kerry) plan to do than what they have done.
You can't even watch a hurricane blow into town without it being politicized in this stormy 2004 presidential campaign season.
"While monitoring Hurricane Frances, I searched the Internet for Florida beach webcam sites. One site I found was the Vero Beach Surfcam," a Virginia resident writes to The Beltway Beat. "After viewing the beachcam picture, I noticed that below it were the words 'BTW, If you need an alternative to Faux News, try here.'
"The link then transferred you to a left-wing . . . site insulting President Bush as 'the smirking chimp,' etc. Even though the citizens and local government of Vero Beach have much more pressing concerns at this time, I wonder if they are aware of this disgusting link placed on their Vero Beach Surfcam."
PEACE FOR ONCE
There's been so much mudslinging flying from all sides during this 2004 presidential campaign that Bennett Roth of the Houston Chronicle wrote in the latest White House pool report: "No news committed."