Today’s topic is the so-called (insert finger air-quotes) fiscal cliff. It’s a fascinating discussion that warrants many hundreds of paragraphs of insightful commentary. Or, I could take this salad fork and repeatedly stab myself in the head. Important etiquette note – when choosing place settings to stab oneself with, always work from the outside in. Thus, the salad fork becomes the first weapon. But I digress…
Discussing politics today is like having a debate about the latest episode of Real Housewives. Extremely strong political factions will have real, substantial disagreements on whether Sue-Ann had the right to not invite Alexis to the black-tie fundraiser because she was like totally mean to Sandy (with an i not a y) for leaving her baby with the maid for a week while she cheated on Benson with Tobin in the Caribbean. There’s a lot of moving parts to this and you can’t expect to have an informed opinion unless you’re willing to invest time in watching the fifty-six hours of exclusive behind the scenes talk shows aired per week.
It’s easy to become completely absorbed by it all until you realize one minor little point. It’s not real. I mean the politics not the Housewives, don’t panic. Politicians don’t poop in the morning unless it’s been focus group tested, polls conducted, and K street lobbyists approve. Every word, each nuanced statement, the appearances on the talk shows… all carefully manufactured. This may surprise you but all politicians work from a standard book of phrases. It’s called the APWW (American Politicians Weasel Words) Style Guide and has been updated yearly since Truman was president. Here’s a brief sample of some of the entries that have been included the last few editions:
- Taxes – This term is no longer approved for use. Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Revenue; Contributions; ‘those who profited the most can afford to do a little more’;
- Spending – This term is no longer approved for use. Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Investment; ‘improving our infrastructure’; ‘investing in our children’;
- Liberal – This term is no longer approved for use. Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Progressive
- Conservative – See entry for hypocrite.
- Sheep or lemmings – Acceptable for internal memos only. Public documents should use: ‘the American people’; ‘the electorate’; the voices of America’;
- Austerity – No known definitions of this term can be found. Considered to be a ‘danger’ term. Advise against using.
- Lobbyist – This term is no longer approved for use. Terms/phrases that are acceptable are: Advisor; ‘the business community’; ‘worker representatives’;
- Cuts – This term can only be used when referring to projected revenue increases that don’t occur.
As you can see, politicians face a complex world. This is why it’s vital they hire the best advisors other people’s money can buy. Just as with reality television, behind the scenes there are thousands of people (hard-working AMERICANS) who spend countless hours crafting an image, a product, that’s sold to the public for one purpose. Money. As Abraham Lincoln famously said at the Gettysburg address, “…Greed, for lack of a better word, works.”
The most disappointing aspect of the annual fiscal cliff negotiations is clearly a lack of respect for AMERICAN institutions. By that I of course mean Hostess Brands. It’s a sad day when we’re willing to invest in the US Antarctic Program Blue Ribbon Panel Review, but not a beloved creamy snack cake. It shakes my confidence as a member of the AMERICAN PEOPLE. It’s clearly time for the quintessential critical thinker of our time to tell me how to think. Obviously I’m referring to the oracle of talk, the wizard of image, Oprah. She alone can unite this great country again. I urge you to contact your network affiliates and plead with them to allow her to work her magic – to heal the deep divide between the parties before it’s too late.