Ignoring the labels and slogans of Reality Politics

n the first heady days of the new Congress, there have been numerous stories about San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House.

And this is how she is usually referred to, as the liberal from San Francisco, as if this 66-year-old grandmother somehow encompasses the entire left-wing, latte-drinking, Lexus-driving, gay marriage-worshiping community. There is also an obsession with her clothes and appearance, which to my knowledge has never before been an attribute worth noting for past House speakers. I don't seem to remember people referring to Pelosi's predecessor, Dennis Hastert, as the rotund wrestling coach from Illinois.

Labels are shorthand for us time-starved Americans who don't want to waste precious minutes actually thinking about the leaders we elect when we could be watching "American Idol."

Why waste time studying issues and policies when people have worked so hard to come up with these perfectly good labels, nicknames and slogans?

Our "New Way Forward" in Iraq can be haggled over by George "The Decider" Bush and Dick "Last Throes" Cheney, presiding over the pro-war team that includes Joe "Party of One" Lieberman, and, well, the ranks kind of thin out after that. Long departed are Colin "Pottery Barn" Powell and Don "Looting? What Looting?" Rumsfeld.

On the other side we have Harry "Free Tickets" Reid (Pinky to his friends), Ted "Happy Hour" Kennedy and John "Cut and Run" Murtha, along with all those "Dirty Hippies" who oppose the war and make up, oh, about 60 percent of America.

Chiming in from the alumni ranks are Bill "Have a Cigar" Clinton and Jimmy "Peanut" Carter, with a blast from the past by Gerald "I was a lot quieter when I was alive" Ford.

"Internet" Al Gore will claim the whole problem of heated Middle East tensions is due to global warming, while Sen. Ted "Bridge to Nowhere" Stevens will argue that we can vent that heat into space via the Internet, which is, after all, a series of tubes.

Labels are essential, for we must waste no time in this age of danger. As The Decider has instructed, to fight this War on Terror (nice label), we must spend money we don't have, shop until we drop to boost the economy to benefit our boys in uniform. This is the sacrifice we must make to save America, the Land of the Free Lunch, and Home of the Broke.

So let us wrap up this next presidential campaign. On the Republican side, we have frontrunner John "Egomaniac" McCain against "Twice-Divorced Cross-Dresser" Rudy Guiliani, "Divorced Cancer-Stricken Wife to Marry Mistress" Newt Gingrich, Sam "Opus Dei" Brownback and Mitt "Former Gay Rights Supporter" Romney. Mitt is from the same state as John "For It Before I Was Against It" Kerry. Their mutual flip-flopping must have something to do with the water up there.

Old Flip-Flopper looks to be making a return engagement for the Democrats in 2008, relegated to the tail end of the field behind frontrunners Hillary "My Turn for Interns" Clinton and Barrack Hussein Obama (no change needed on that one).

Behind them you have John "Ambulance Chaser" Edwards, Tom "I'm From Iowa" Vilsack, Joe "Hope They Don't Remember That Plagiarized Speech" Biden, and Dennis "I'm Really From This Planet" Kucinich.

Watching from the sidelines and hoping for some Constitutional intervention will be Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is either The Terminator or an orgy-loving Hollywood actor, depending on which side of the ski slope he fell off of this morning.

Perhaps political campaign seasons need their own label: Reality Politics. People say stupid stuff and pretend it's real, when it's all just an act.

There is little if anything true about these labels. We have been so bombarded with them that we lose track. It's Morning in America, a Thousand Points of Light, a Kinder, Gentler Nation, Putting People First, Compassionate Conservatism, No Child Left Behind.

Mission Accomplished.

The politicians have a label for people who believe these slogans: Suckers. If you buy into these prepackaged labels, then you get the government you deserve. Unfortunately, we get the government you deserve, also.

• Kirk Caraway is editor of http://nevadapolitics.com, and also writes a blog on national issues at http://kirkcaraway.com.


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