“NOTHING, apparently, is safe from politics,” said a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, Cynthia Tucker, regarding US politics. And she says it surely makes Osama bin Laden happy, which means it tickles the enemy of democracy.

But it doesn’t take a Pulitzer award for any other columnist anywhere in the world, like in our country, to think the same way about it. Take the first 2010 presidential debate which was conducted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. A writer referred to the forum as like “the Filipino delicacy balut… (it) was not for the faint-hearted.”

"The Manny Pacquiao Blog". Click here for stories and updates on the Filipino boxing champ.

News these days is beginning to fill up with the word “snipe,” or “sniper,” or “sniping,” or taking a “snipe,” and we’re not talking of gun-tooters here, thank God!

Listen to presidentiable Joseph Estrada “taking a snipe (said a paper) at Sen. Manny Villar who is also using the color orange for his presidential campaign.” Estrada said orange was always his party color, since 1986. When he got word about the legality of his running as a candidate, he said he had to “reclaim” his orange color. Thus, the news said Estrada “took a snipe at presidentiable Sen. Manny Villar who is also using the color for his presidential campaign.”

Snipes.

Snipes are made even before any presidentiables go out to the streets in rallies—the political jiggle starts in the Congress halls, such as in relation to the C-5 deal as the Villar camp did a not-so-obvious early campaign and his colleagues in the Senate took pot-shots at him.

Besides the sniper that we know (“a highly trained marksman”), the word snipe is the name of a shorebird related to sandpipers. Thus, a sniper is a hunter who shoots down snipes. The hunter does his job well, snoops and hides somewhere, the way politicians dock, insinuate and look away.

These days, to snipe is to censure.

But it’s not quite snooping. A campaign news went: “(Richard) Gordon drew the absent Estrada in by hitting his pro-poor stance and lamenting the Filipinos’ kind of ‘political maturity’ …by accepting and forgiving a candidate who had been convicted for plunder.”

Villar-heckler presidentiable Jamby Madrigal, when asked about anything good about Villar, answered in one sentence, “His dyed hair looked good.”

Campaign rallies hit, do down, get at, disparage, or take a snipe, or snipe at. In whatever idiomatic or non-idiomatic form it takes, the term comes in handy to media during election time. It only means that “shooting” sprees are in, a few weeks before May 10.

Was there ever a time when candidates talked about their platform and shot down no one?

When Estrada said that, like Gordon, two presidential candidates also approached him to ask that he withdraw from the race but didn’t name the parties who supposedly were involved here; was he sniping at Villar?

My impression in visits to a few cities there during an election time is that in the US, it’s not sniping—not an insinuation, not a whine nor a grumble--but straight attacks in what they call attack ads on TV. I saw an ad of a NY mayoralty candidate which featured not a picture of the candidate but a cartoon of his political opponent looking like Pinocchio. Each time Pinocchio cited an achievement, his own nose became long, then longer, as Pinocchio’s nose in the fairy tale got longer each time he lied.

Another ad on TV said, “California voters beware: Tom Campbell is a wolf in sheep’s clothing when it comes to his campaign rhetoric on taxes and government spending.” And the illustration on the screen was a sheep with devil eyes!

Can you imagine if any one of our candidates now put out such an ad featuring his opponent? Would there be a real shoot-out?

Nothing is safe in politics.

(ecuizon@gmail.com)