Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Maximum U.S. politics geekage

The current somewhat undignified squabble between seemingly countless Republicans to be the GOP's candidate for the Presidential election has, on a very personal level, had one benefit: I no longer mix up Mitt Romney and Rahm Emmanuel. "Rahm" isn't pronounced in the same way as a rutting male sheep, but in exactly the same way as the first syllable of Mitt's surname (or as in CD ROM) - hence the confusion. Being a radio addict I've been aware of both of them for the last couple of years, but not having seen their names written down, aurally they sort of blurred into one - important but middle ranking serious political players in their respective parties, but I could never remember who was the ex-governor and who wasn't, and which was the Democrat and which was the Republican.

Mitt Romney has now shot into a position of prominence as contender for the Republican presidential nomination. This week the Economist's Lexington column describes him as an "all too smooth flip-flopper". We also know that he is a Mormon and as a result probably wears interesting underwear. Don't ask me for more serious analysis beyond this because what he believes in politically seems to revolve mainly around getting elected. I normally get annoyed when people say that about politicians because often it isn't true at all. But as a governor of liberal East Coast state, Massachusetts, Romney was easy on gay marriage, pro-choice and for some gun-control. Now he needs to get the support of the far more right wing Republican party faithful who actually vote in the primaries, he has - to put it nicely - re-evaluated those positions.

Rahm Emanuel (remember - say it "Rom"!) on the other hand is a congressman, one of the big beasts of the Democratic Party, and is seen as the mastermind of the party's 2006 midterm election success. His recent claim to fame was that, from his position as the Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House, he advised his fellow congressmen and women not to go on the very funny Colbert Report, which was probably wise - if not much fun. Much cooler than that is that supposedly he is the inspiration for the character of Josh in the West Wing. I was always quite partial to Josh, even if after six seasons I was still yelling at the telly - "get a haircut!" as he was always dangerously bordering on a mullet. Anyway back to real life and Rahm: something I didn't know before is that, according to Wikipedia, Emanuel's dad was a member of the Irgun, although I'm sure when he gets invited to the British Embassy for cocktails they skip the tricky - "So? Your old man? A member of a terrorist group or not?" question. Swooning over the real life Josh is much less controversial and more fun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As Governor of MA, Romney was not easy on gay marriage. In fact, ever since the Supreme Council came down with the decision in the Goodridge case, Romney has been working on allowing the voters decide the issue.

Romney was also not easy on abortion. He may have run on the basis that he wouldn't seek to change the existing laws, but when faced with decisions like expanding the use of the morning after pill, Romney sought to veto those measures. He also took an active stance against embryo farming.

I also think that while he supported restricting some assault weapons, he is also credited with signing legilsation that streamlined the permit process and made it much easier for law abiding citizens to lawfully obtain and possess firearms.

All-in-all, Romney's record in MA is of moderation against the left-leaning legislature.

As a Presidential candidate, Romney has further articulated his conservative positions. And yes, one can expect that message to focus on different aspects of his message that he would not have emphasized as Governor of an otherwise democrat state.