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Recognition, At Last
By William Luse May 27, 2004

Good news came in the mail a couple of days ago, and I thought I'd share it. After all, that's what we Christians are supposed to do - share the good news. All right, this isn't quite that important, but it's still nothing to sniff at. So without further ado, it gives me great pleasure to inform you that I am the recipient of a high honor: the National Republican Congressional Committee's Congressional Order of Merit. It almost gives me as much pleasure as it gives the guys who gave it to me. The letter begins:

Dear Friend,

On behalf of the Executive Council of the National Republican Congressional Committee, I'm honored to inform you that your unfailing support of President Bush, the men and women who serve him, our nation and our Republican cause so impressed the Executive Council they've nominated you for the NRCC's highest honor:

THE CONGRESSIONAL ORDER OF MERIT

I hope you'll accept this honor. You've certainly earned it, and the Executive Council agrees…

On the letterhead were the names of Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, and Tom Reynolds, Chairman of the Committee, one of whom goes on to point out that COM recipients are made worthy by their "commitment, loyalty, and dedication of service to one's nation, as well as service to the Republican Party," and that such attributes are the "demonstrated guideposts for individuals" (like me) "of high moral and ethical character."

It is with these ideals in mind that we, the undersigned members of the Executive Council, place into nomination for the Congressional Order of Merit: William Luse, Jr., who shares those beliefs and exemplifies the esteem and spirit this honor embodies.

By this time, as you can imagine, I was overawed by the singularity of this award. To have been selected from among so many is just...inexpressible. And all that was on the first page. The letter went on for four pages, so you can imagine what I felt like by the end - speechless with humility and a sense of unworthiness. And since the letter writer had "championed" my nomination, "the Council's acceptance was easily gained" because my "record is too impressive to ignore". I would soon be receiving a "beautiful certificate", which meant inclusion, along with a "roster of select Republicans," in the Congressional Order of Merit Register, which register would be "elegantly printed and bound," one copy to be delivered to President George W. Bush, a second to be kept "on exhibit at our Republican Party headquarters." You could have knocked me over with a feather.

But I knew that speechlessness from a prone position was not the order of the day. Select individuals are expected to rise to the occasion. A response was called for, perhaps even a speech to commemorate the event. Although there was nothing in the letter to indicate that my presence in Washington would be required, it seemed wise to prepare for any eventuality. So I pulled myself from the floor to the couch to pen the following letter of acceptance:

Dear Mr. Reynolds:

I thought at first Dennis Hastert himself, the Speaker of the House, was writing to me and then I saw your name at the end of the letter. Kind of a letdown because I've never heard of you. JK. (That's computerland lingo for 'just kidding.' My daughters taught it to me.) So don't take offense. Just a little joke between fellow GOP'ers. The Democrats seem so humorless these days, if we couldn't kid among ourselves what would we do? Besides, you write a pretty good letter, what with half the sentences underlined for emphasis, and I'm sure Mr. Hastert had to approve it.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you and Speaker Hastert and the Executive Council (by the way, who sits on the Council? I keep picturing a bunch of guys in dark robes or suits gathered in solemn conclave and seated at an elevated dais while they pore over the names of eligible honorees) for the award you are about bestow upon me. Before issuing a formal acceptance, I just wanted to ask a few questions to which I know you won't mind providing a brief answer for the benefit of a fellow public servant. You've already written me four pages; one more ain't gonna hurt, is it? LOL. (That's computer lingo for 'laugh out loud.' My daughters taught me.)

First, as soon as I told my wife the good news about this impending honor, her first reaction, instead of being happy for me, was to ask indignantly why you guys never send her anything. All the stuff from the RNC is always addressed to me. I may be the head of household, but she pays more income taxes. And let me tell you something about women - once they get the bit between their teeth, they don't let go. Just the other day I listened to her intimidate the service manager of a car repair shop that was trying to rip our daughter off into refunding an hour's worth of labor. She said something about estimates and required phone calls if there's an overrun and the guy just wilted. And she did this by long distance on the telephone. IMHO (that's computer lingo for 'in my humble opinion' - my daughters, etc.): if you really want to close or reverse the gender gap, you need to pay more attention to the ladies. And you don't want this one on your case. Trust me.

Now about that registration card you want me to fill out before "we can pen your name into…our nation's great history…Executive Council" (who are those guys?) "rules do not permit entering your name into the ..Register until you've confirmed all of the vital information requested on the Registration Card." And a lot of that was underlined for emphasis. My wife (she's the suspicious one, not me) noticed that there's a contribution form at the bottom where I can check a box from $1,000 on down to $25 on down to "other," and below that a "make check payable to" notice, and on the back of the form a request for credit card information. Seeing as how we're kind of strapped at the moment, she wants to know if I get the award even if I don't contribute. She also says that including a credit card form on the back of a certificate of honor is the height of tackiness, but that's just her opinion.

You also say that if I "include a special contribution" with my response you can begin to "lay the early groundwork for the 2004 election, build …grassroots organizations," etc., "All key factors in our fight to maintain control of the White House…"

She notes a couple of things. First, how can you lay the groundwork for anything with 25 bucks, which is the max we could afford if she let me contribute which she won't? Are you telling us (she asks) that you don't have a groundwork? We've got an oil millionaire President and an indirect oil millionaire Vice-President and you don't have a groundwork? If those guys can't help you (says she) then nobody can. In fact, it's her opinion that these requests for money are flowing in entirely the wrong direction. She thinks, in light of my (in your words) "unfailing support of President Bush," and your belief that (in your words) "we wouldn't be where we are today without you," that you guys should be paying me. You see, we get things in the mail all the time from people wanting money - from Easter Seals, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, the Police Benevolent Association, our local Catholic parish "stewardship" fund, the Catholic diocese of Eskimoland, the Bleeding Hearts for the Homeless, whatever - and she thinks it's about time somebody started sending money our way.

She also objects to your calling it "our fight to maintain control of the White House." She thinks you ought to call it "stewardship" or "custodianship" on behalf of the people who elected you (or rather, Bush) to champion certain policies. She wants to know why she voted for a big tax cut and instead got a little teeny one. She wants to know if her Medicare or Social Security taxes are going to increase to fund the prescription drug benefit. She wants to know why you went along with the Supreme Court's affirmative action ruling in the Michigan case when you campaigned against affirmative action, why you didn't scream a little more about the sodomy ruling, why the federal deficit is ballooning out of control again, why little old retired men and ladies with white hair have to take their shoes off in American airports, and why you don't mention the evil of abortion more often.

Whew. Sorry about all the questions, but you know how it is, I'm sure. A certain deference is owed to our better halves' discontents if we are to make life bearable.

Oh, and one more thing (says she): since you seem to know so much about me - about my years of unfailing service and my high moral character - enough to want to give me an award, how is it you can't be sure about my "vital information" for the Registration Card, like how to spell my name right? I mean (her again) you've got the FBI and the CIA and you're not sure my name's spelled right? No wonder you guys can't find Osama bin Laden.

Okay, we're done with her questions (I know, you're thinking: Thank God. No offense taken).

I just have a couple questions of my own and a small confession to make. First, have I just been nominated for the award, or has it been determined that I will actually be awarded the award? It's not quite clear from your letter. Second, the members of the Executive Council are referred to as "the undersigned members of the Executive Council", but their signatures don't appear anywhere. So, just a gentle reminder: who are they? Maybe you could send me a list of their names so that my wife and I could thank them personally.

And now for my little confession. My greatest fear is that you've mistaken me for someone else, like my father or grandfather or maybe someone in Des Moines with the same last name because, I dread saying it, I have never in my life given a penny to the Republican or any other political party, done any poll-sitting or any other volunteer work, and the only unfailing support I've given Mr. Bush was to vote for him (which is supposed to be confidential) and to cheer on the War on Terror. And his wife, who's kind of cute but doesn't want Roe v. Wade overturned, kind of pisses me off, what with her literacy campaign for children. She ever try reading to a dead baby?

But listen, I'm willing to finesse all this in order to garner the award and to protect the public appearance of sound judgement by the Executive Council. In short, I'm willing to lie in a good cause. You thought Bill Clinton was a liar? I can make him look like the Boy Scout of prevaricators if it helps keep the Democrats in the hinterlands.

Anyway, I just want you to know I'm proud to accept this nomination, award, honor - whichever. Thanks again, and best wishes in making the Republican Party the party of small government.

Sincerely,
William Luse, Jr. (yep, you had it right on the Registration Card)

Copyright © 2004 by William Luse


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