Still no word on when -- or if -- the Senate Governmental Affairs commttee will vote on the reconfirmation of Donald J. Devine to head the Office of Personnel Management.
Anybody who has ever been between jobs, or waited for the doctor to provide test results, can identify, if not sympathize, with the controversial official.
Because of sloppy staff work or some other reason, the White House failed to send Devine's renomination to the Senate, delaying what was expected to be an easy reconfirmation vote.
As a result, Devine's four-year term expired before hearings began. He has been serving as a special assistant to Acting Director Loretta Cornelius while awaiting the committee's verdict.
During the reconfirmation hearings, committee Democrats led by Sen. Thomas Eagleton (D-Mo.) attacked Devine for campaigning on behalf of Republican congressional candidates last year. Through most of the hearings, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska was the only Republican member of the committee in attendance.
Eagleton suffered a heart attack after the last hearing. The committee said it would wait for him to return to duty until it scheduled a vote. He's been back more than a week, working and voting on other issues. His office told the committee that he is ready, willing and eager to have the showdown session.
Meanwhile, Eagleton and Sen. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.) have sent a lengthy "Dear Colleague" letter to members of the Senate detailing Devine's 1984 political activities, saying that they violated the spirit of his civil service job. Devine has defended his actions as legal, and said his Democratic predecessor, Alan K. Campbell, also did some politicking without getting any complaints.
Devine's backers are keeping stiff upper lips and maintain that the controversy will pass.
But the long delay -- and lack of any overt White House effort or arm-twisting on Devine's behalf -- have convinced his opponents, including most federal and postal unions, that he is all but out.
The unions think that at least one of three Republican members -- Charles McC. Mathias of Maryland; David Durenberger of Minnesota or William Cohen of Maine -- will go against Devine if a vote is held, and that is why there has been no voting.