Porky Politicians Love Their Names Too Much

Many of the egregious earmarks embedded in recent federal spending bills may aptly be described as vanity projects.  Indeed, some of the infrastructure and educational facilities will be defiled with the names of narcissistic senators who squealed, squeaked, and squished their pork projects into the budgeting pigsty.

Appropriating legislators inappropriately ensured that their names are emblazoned all over their profligate projects.  The University of Alabama is practically named after Senator Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee.  As for Senator Leahy, the appropriations chairman, $2.35 million of the $211 million he earmarked for Vermont is for a science and nature museum named for him.

They stand out as lacking character, if that is defined as the deeds one does when no one is looking, but the political pigsty is crowded.  Since porky politicians love seeing their names everywhere, perhaps we'll get fiscal responsibility when pigs fly.  Following are a few suggestions for renaming airport facilities that are so integral to our transportation infrastructure. 

A whopping Federal Aviation Administration grant includes $60 million to improve the terminal and replace the bag-handling system at Denver International Airport.  Maybe it can be called the Hickenlooper conveyor, after the Colorado senator.  After all, John Hickenlooper is on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and the luggage in Denver Airport has such a problem looping around properly that they had to revert to a manual tug and trolley system.

San Francisco International Airport is receiving funds from the FAA that will be used, in part, to complete the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 new check-in lobby.  Since the airport ranks very high in flight delays, I suggest they call it the Pelosi "Read the Bill" Lounge.  There should be time to catch up on her legislative monstrosities, including the infrastructure bill that procures hundreds of millions of dollars for SFO.  And in the spirit of Pelosi's political vanity, they might include a salon for disheveled travelers named the Pelosi Petunia Parlor.  No mask required.

The main airports in Philadelphia will get more than $20 million each to renovate their restrooms.  Maybe they should be named the "Fetterman Johns."  Though he wasn't onboard to vote for the bill, Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman was awash with votes from Philadelphia precincts.  He's junior, but the scruffy liberal has to start somewhere on the name recognition ladder.

While Memphis International is a top cargo airport, the business travel side ranks very low (slide 8), partly because it has only one airport lounge.  Unsurprisingly, Memphis officials are cajoling Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg for more funding to refurbish the terminal.  If they get it, I hope its name reflects the city's cultural heritage.  I certainly can't imagine many business people wishing to linger in a potential "Buttigieg lounge" while their flight is delayed.

There is precedent for changing airport names, which might quell the impetus for more costly vanity projects elsewhere.  For example, not long ago, Las Vegas Harry Reid Airport was named after a previous Nevada senator named McCarran.  McCarran wrote the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, but some of his discriminatory views have since surfaced.  Apparently, it matters not one whit to the Clark County commission that authorized the change that Harry Reid was a shameless liar, all too keen to destroy political opponents in Machiavellian fashion.  

Speaking of Machiavellianism, it's high time to rename the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport in Arkansas, which doesn't conjure a smooth landing.  While Bill does invoke the lascivious image of the Mile High Club, Hillary is a ghastly, cackling caricature who rode hubby's coattails.  By contrast, the Huckabee name is less turbulent and is now associated with two Arkansas governors.  It's also much easier to communicate, so Huckabee Airport it is, then.

There is no Barack Obama airport yet.  Since he loved apologizing for America, and "leading from behind," perhaps the naming authorities in Indonesia can add his name to Jakarta International Airport.  It's currently called Soekarno-Hatta, but Soekarno-Hatta-Soetoro has a ready rhythm.  Besides, the airport is often simply called Cengkareng by Indonesians.  

The updated name seems appropriate, since Obama spent several of his formative years in Jakarta; indeed, he said that "Indonesia is a part of me."  Probably more a part of him than the good ol' U.S. of A., judging by his "America last" policies.  I'm sure he'll enjoy ambling along the new Michelle Obama "not proud of America" trail — if it is appropriately named, that is.

Prior to Air Force One, Biden often rode on Amtrak, which certainly benefited from porky politician pecuniary profligacy.  However, there is an airport that is perfect for his name.  It's in Biden's hometown, and is called the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International airport.  Renaming to the more "famous" local boy is suitable because it has no domestic or commercial services, and international is a misnomer if ever there was one.  Essentially, the airport is as directionless and feckless as Biden's moral compass.   

If politicians exhibited just an ounce of character, just a smidgen of class, they would prevail upon various naming authorities to consider names of other luminaries or military heroes to adorn their facilities.  For example, there are many standout graduates of the University of Alabama whose names could replace Shelby's.  In Vermont, surely the Nettie Stevens Science and Nature center sounds better than Patrick Leahy.  Her due is long overdue.

But that's wishful thinking — porky politicians love their names too much.  Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.  Or should that be: "oink, oink, grunt no more"?

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

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