Editorials: Bouquets and Brickbats

Domenici last week became only the eighth senator to cast at least 13,000 votes. The huge number is a reflection both of his longevity - he was first elected in 1973 - and his strong work ethic.

Domenici humbly downplays reaching the milestone, but the 13,000 tally is a confirmation of the tremendous experience he has amassed over the years - including in local politics before ascending to the Senate - which he routinely brings to bear in New Mexico's favor. He now is one of the Senate's most-experienced and most-respected members. That's a blessing for a state as small in population and in wealth as New Mexico.

Domenici, 74, said last week that he plans to run again in 2008, in part because "I just love what I do." Here's looking ahead to an even more-impressive legacy of votes.

Brickbat: shoe-chuckers

Among the toughest jobs in America these days is screening passengers at airports for the Transportation Security Administration. That's partly because of the guff that impatient passengers so rudely give them.

The combination of serving as watchdogs against terrorists and as customer-service representatives is an incredibly difficult weight to balance. On one hand, screeners must search passengers and luggage and stare at X-ray machines for hours on end, while adjusting to different bad-guy scams every day, and on the other, they must be good-natured enough to keep the overwhelmingly innocent people they are inconveniencing happy. With annual salaries from $23,600 to $35,400, they're not getting rich. And they struggle constantly with fatigue.

The Tribune's Eric Siemers reported on TSA employees at Albuquerque's International Sunport in Monday's Tribune. They are a remarkably contented lot, well aware of the importance of what they're doing. And most passengers understand. But screeners allow that a down side of the job is the unruly passengers who complain - occasionally, by throwing shoes at them.

The screeners are at the end of a long chain of command that reaches to Washington, D.C. It's not their fault when the feds decide suddenly that passengers must take off their shoes or abandon their hair gel before clearing security. But screeners get to take the heat.

Their public service is a form of genuine sacrifice. Angry passengers should take deep breaths, bite their tongues and sacrifice a little bit, too. Try thanking them instead.

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