In the battle for favorable press clippings and editorial endorsements, Donald J. Devine, director-designate of the Office of Personnel Management, is certainly holding his own against the opposition, which (Devine's backers contend) plays the news media like a violin.
That is important because the Senate, which will shortly decide Devine's fate, is a highly literate group whose must-reading includes home state newspapers and TV news and editorial scripts as well as Washington and New York journals.
Devine, in case you have been vacationing on Mars, ran the federal personnel agency until his four-year term expired in late March.
He was nominated for a second term. He ran into heavy flak from Democrats on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. They claim the controversial former University of Maryland professor politicized the OPM and nearly destroyed the morale of the career civil service.
Devine, like him or not, is important to everybody who works for the government or who ever did. He has spearheaded attempts to reform/destroy (choose one) federal pay, pension, promotion and retirement programs.
Despite warnings from GOP members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that Devine doesn't have the votes, the White House is pressing his renomination. The committee has scheduled another hearing on Devine for Wednesday.
Since leaving OPM, Devine has been with the Heritage Foundation. That highly regarded conservative think tank is second to none in its ability to deal with the media and gain audiences with newspaper editorial boards.
Devine's partisans contend that he has been the victim of inside-the-beltway media bashing inspired by liberal Democrats and Republicans who would like to mount Devine's pelt in their dens.
On May 10, the Senate Republican Steering Committee -- made up of political heavyweights -- sent a mixed appeal to President Reagan. One part of the letter noted that Devine had been flawless (it did not say diplomatic) in carrying out the president's program. The other part warned that if Devine flops, the same thing could happen to future conservative nominees of the president.
Last month, a series of strong pro-Devine editorials appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times and the Detroit News.
On May 23, Atlanta Constitution columnist Durwood McAlister suggested the government "clone" Devine so there would be more officials like him. Of federal worker opposition to Devine's cost-cutting efforts, McAlister wrote: "Unfortunately, nobody is so despised by drunkards as a true-believing preacher of temperance and Devine's cost-cutting crusade has evoked a firestorm of anger from those who belly up to the federal bar."
On the same day, William Murchison, associate editor of the Dallas Morning News, wrote that Devine has done a "splendid job" and deserves reconfirmation. He said the president and Devine are being attacked by "liberal guerrillas in both parties" who want to overturn the Reagan mandate.
There have been numerous editorials and columns in smaller newspapers praising Devine's first four years and the cost-cutting measures that he either instituted or tried to implement.
Whether the Senate confirms, or rejects, Devine remains to be seen.
But in the battle for favorable press clippings, Devine, the supposed whipping boy of the media, is doing very well indeed.