The View From Here column 11/4/05
By BILL DUNCAN
I am not a joiner, but people keep trying to get me to join this organization or that organization. Lately, there seems to be a great number of offers to join.
Bud Bessey of Myrtle Creek, Ore., a retired Navy chief petty officer, who is organizing a Fleet Reserve Association chapter in Douglas County, Oregon stands out like a tattooed Uncle Sam pointing his finger at me saying, "I Want You!"
I fell for the pointed finger once and found myself at Parris Island, S.C. as a Marine Corps boot. I guess that is why Bud wants me in the Fleet Reserve Association because he knows that the Marine Corps is the better part of the Navy.
Sorry sailor, the Marines have the situation well in hand and we know you Navy types dumped us on hostile beaches and run back to the ship for a comfortable bed and hot chow.
Tom Weathers, president of Roseburg Senior Center, is hounding me to join that organization. I almost did, until I read the survey of needs and figured out I was about to become the publicity chairman. Over the years, I have learned that it is not my great personality that makes me important to an organization. It is that the group thinks I have an inside track to getting publicity in print. Not so. A journalist turned flack is the most suspicious person to walk into a newsroom.
In the news business a prostitute gets more respect. As a matter of fact, that is what a journalist turned flack is often called.
I recall one organization I belonged to in California that appointed me publicity chairman. Each year the group had an authentic old California barbecue. It was held on a ranch settled by Spaniards under a land grant from Spain.
I came up with a genius of an idea to get maximum publicity. I sent personal invitations to the barbecue to the media. I felt it was the perfect way of getting the event publicized. Was I ever wrong.
The committee had an emergency meeting when they received an RSVP from a television reporter. I was told in uncertain terms I did not have the authority to invite the press and I was to send notices rescinding the invitations. I refused and resigned my chairmanship.
Months later I discovered the reason for the panic. The committee had arranged to have a roulette table at the event and believed that the press would expose the illegal activity.
Lately, there have been some tempting offers. Not long ago, for example, I received an impressive invitation from the Washington, D.C. thanking me for my counsel, advice and support to the current administration. There was even a fancy certificate enclosed bestowing on me honors for my "Meritiouious Service" to the Republican Party. It was signed by Senator Trent Lott, offering me the position of Delegate-at-Large of the Republican Party Planning Committee.
I was ready to accept until I read further and discovered I was expected to pay big bucks for this honor. Just think of the chance I turned down. I could give the White House a few ideas on how we could end that mess over in Iraq. I could offer advice on what to do about all those media leaks. I could share a few ideas about running a national disaster.
Perhaps the invitation I received this week, is the most tempting of all. Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a personal invitation to me to join the ACLU as a full-vested member with all the rights and privileges of membership.
Hot damn! Now there is a group that needs my advice and counsel.
I was about the join until I turned over the invitation and saw that the ACLU, like the Republican Party, wants me to buy the privilege.
Oh well, anyway they probably just want to make me a publicity chairman.
(You can write to Bill Duncan at P.O. Box 812, Roseburg, OR 97470, but don’t ask him to join anything. Readers can check his blog on the web at www.theduncansonline.com/elderstatesman)