Politics by any other name

Bobn Betzen is a Fair Oaks computer programmer/analyst

Last November’s election redirected our country; it turned politics on its head and gave voters a fresh way of thinking about government. Undoubtedly, many politicians are searching for just the right words to convey their thoughts in this new reality.

The old insults just don’t work anymore. Perhaps the vitriol has gotten too personal. Ridicule plays best as a bank-shot; it avoids backfire and gets to political opponents at a strange angle. Here are some gentle suggestions for an updated political terminology:

Kite hawks: Weak-willed politicians that support an initially popular war, only to say they were misled when the polls go south. See: Senator John Kerry. Those kite hawks will fly in whatever direction the wind blows.

Powder-puff derby: A turf battle between two female politicians of the same party. More subtle than the blatantly sexist “cat fight,” yet still derisively suggests an unserious engagement, like an intramural flag-football game. Fun, but not something you’d watch under the big lights. It’s like a powder-puff derby in here when Harmon and Pelosi get into it.

Pants-down politician: An elected official, typically male, who uses his influence to curry personal favors and whose poorly timed indiscretions embarrass others in the party (for example, Mark Foley). If not for one pants-down politician, we could have won this election.

Heavy base: Office holders who disenchant swing voters by incessantly pandering to core constituencies. Known for throwing their weight around in committee meetings, these politicians run for re-election with a pocketful of brass. Our heavy base prevents us from gaining traction with moderates.

Flat face: When a politician falls flat on his face before millions of voters watching on the Internet, as in Senator George Allen’s “macaca” misstep. That flat facing destroyed his presidential ambitions. She’ll never get past her flat face.

Dead letters: Lame prose written by a politician long ago. The senator’s old novels are just dead letters. We need something on video.

Of course, this lexicon is offered as an exercise in sarcasm. A serious effort to develop phrases that could be used to belittle politicians without sounding inconsiderate would require focus groups and trained experts. Clearly our representatives have no time for such sophomoric pursuits. Put-downs are for comedy clubs. Congress and the Legislature have more important matters to deal with.