- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Flip-flopping

As president of the Global Language Monitor, Paul JJ Payack publishes the PQ (Political-sensitivity Quotient) Index to be taken monthly until the November presidential election, and quarterly thereafter.

From his research office in Danville, Calif., Mr. Payack tells this column that the word ‘abuse’ directly relating to Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison scandal bested ‘flip-flop’ at the top of the May index, but just barely.

“Though the Abu Ghraib ‘abuse’ story is exploding, and in spite of all the bad news for the administration, ‘flip-flop’ in all its variations is gaining in strength,” says Mr. Payack. “This remarkable rise in the midst of the scandal points to Sen. John Kerry’s present predicament.”

As in the likely Democratic presidential nominee flip-flopping on the issues along the campaign trail.

The PQ Index, says Mr. Payack, is a “proprietary algorithm” that tracks politically sensitive words and phrases in the media, each tracked in relation to their frequency, contextual usage and appearance.

Here’s the top 10 words/phrases tracked by the May index:

1. Abuse: Abu Ghraib scandal

2. Flip-flop: Mr. Kerry’s changing positions

3. Resign: Calls for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld

4. Incuriosity: President Bush characterized as ‘incurious’ by critics

5. Quagmire: Referring to Iraq war; appears twice as often as during the Vietnam War

6. Misleader: A favorite of the anti-Bush faction

7. Steadfast: A favorite description by Mr. Bush’s supporters

8. Shock and awe: Falling as one of the top phrases from last year

9. Rush to war: Sparked the creation of the PQ Index

10. Two Americas: Rich and poor, liberal and conservative, etc.

Other popular words and phrases: embedded, war for oil, global outsourcing and likability.

Born again

The most well-written “correction” of the week goes to the Weekly Standard magazine, which “extends its congratulations and apologies to retired Sen. Howard Metzenbaum of Ohio, who is still very much alive, notwithstanding an en passant suggestion to the contrary in these pages last week.”

Drunks in suits

Anxious children across the land are being dealt report cards this week as another school year draws to a close. Responsible students who did their homework will be promoted to a higher grade. Kids who slacked off could fail.

Similarly, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is now releasing its report card covering the first session of the current 108th Congress.

When it comes to carelessly spending taxpayers’ dollars, the grades aren’t good.

“Any child who received equivalent marks in school would be forced to repeat the same grade,” scolds the council, predicting many members may be expelled as a result come November.

“Congressional excess has become so egregious that comparing members of Congress to drunken sailors would be an insult to any brave, seafaring soul.”

For the first time since 1994, not a single member in the House or Senate scored 100 percent.

In fact, the House had only 68 members scoring 80 percent or above. Only 11 senators had grades above 80.

Sorting the loot

Says former President Bill Clinton: “David Alsobrook has the experience, the credentials and temperament needed to guide and direct this library.”

As in the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, the 11th such White House athenaeum operated by the National Archives and Records Administration.

This newest president library will be dedicated Nov. 18 on the banks of the Arkansas River in Little Rock.

Mr. Alsobrook, who has been appointed the library’s director, recently directed the Clinton Presidential Materials Project, moving planeloads of presidential material from the White House to be store in an abandoned Oldsmobile agency warehouse in Arkansas. Shipping crates, for example, held 75 million pages of official and personal papers, almost 2 million photographs, and 75,000 presidential gifts.

Until moving to Little Rock, Mr. Alsobrook was the director of the George H.W. Bush presidential library in Texas, and before that spent 10 years at Jimmy Carter’s library in Atlanta as supervisory archivist.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslinwashingtontimes.com.

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