Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Philly Reflection

Just yesterday, my on/off-line friend Susan and I had lunch & spent the (rainy) day hanging out, talking about Work & Life, Served with Food. Naturally, there was a dash of politics mixed in as well.

Then I ran across this piece by Carrie Budoff Brown, riffing on PA Governor Ed Rendell, Clinton supporter is armed and dangerous, which summed up part of our conversation. As Brown noted:

New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell make an odd pair. Clinton is the model of message discipline, a politician whose steely demeanor and unerring ways cause voters to question her authenticity. Rendell, a strong Clinton supporter, is the exact opposite — a loose-lipped, gregarious backslapper whose gaffe-prone ways only underscore his genuineness.

In the six-week run-up to Pennsylvania’s April 22 primary, the two will test the limits of their relationship. Clinton is likely to discover that few Democratic politicians can deliver as much to her campaign — or inadvertently inflict as much damage — as Rendell.
However, it was this line that went to the heart of our discussion:
Bill Clinton and Rendell are like political twins separated at birth, two Democrats sharing a love of cheese steaks, sports and glad-handing. Rendell’s wife, Midge, owes her seat on the federal appeals court in Philadelphia to Bill Clinton.
Over the past several years, I have observed the similarity between the political landscape in DC and Philly. As I explained the phenomenon to Susan, I have often seen the reflection of Washington in Philly political scene. For example, Ed Rendell as Mayor mirrored Bill Clinton, as described by Carrie of Politico. In addition to the likeness in their personalities, the country and Philly prospered under the leadership of Clinton and Rendell, respectively. Both were -- and are -- hugely popular, despite various political (and personal) gaffs they have exhibited on occasion.

Then came John Street in Philly and George Bush in the White House -- twins in every way. OK, except for their party affiliation and the color of the skin. But under the skin -- secret blood brothers. Both have an excess of ego and hubris, ruling with a chip on the shoulder the size of Mt. Everest. Both prize the bubble they placed themselves in, with a governance style removed from the public they serve. Both relish secrecy and demand subservient loyalty from staffers. Corruption plagued both administrations. And then there's the war in Iraq, which has been compared to the war on the streets of Philadelphia in civilian bloodshed, which spiked during the reign of Street.

And Philly now has Michael Nutter as Mayor, the come from behind reform-minded, intellectual, inspirational leader who managed to transcend race in his quest for the position, preferring to rule as the Mayor of all segments of the City. If the Washington follows Philly analogy holds true, then I guess we know who will be occupying the White House next January.

As a postscript of sorts, to continue the comparison, I tried to recall the Mayor who preceded Rendell and couldn't for the life of me remember who it was (it was Wilson Goode). The President, of course, was Bush the Senior. The mirror holds true -- neither were memorable.

UPDATE: Confirming my view on the similarities between the two, the Washington Post notes that Obama and Nutter have a lot in common (besides their race), in Philadelphia Mayor's Endorsement Suddenly Matters. Of course, the piece also points out that Nutter is supporting Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama in the primary -- due in large part to the fact that Obama endorsed Chaka Fattah in the mayoral race last year, as well as his long term relationship with the Clintons.

(Via Pennsyltucky Politics)

1 comment:

Susan said...

Consider this an on-line mash note: I had a great time seeing you off-line (aka, in the flesh) on Saturday.