Monday, June 05, 2006

Here in California, we're having a primary election tomorrow. In the race for the Democratic nomination for Governor to challenge Arnold Schwarzenegger, the two main candidates are Phil Angelides, who made a lot of money in real estate and now serves as one of the top state fiscal officials (treasurer), and Steve Westly, who made a lot of money as an executive at eBay and now serves as one of the top state fiscal officials (comptroller). I'm not sure exactly who does what; I should look it up in the state constitution. Maybe one keeps an eye on the other. The two have even more in common: they have been campaigning mainly by running nasty negative ads against each other, and neither has the support of more than about 35 percent of voters in polls. (An almost equal number are still undecided, like Your Humble Commando Etymologist.) About the only difference is that Angelides is a little geekier looking (in fact, he looks a little like YHCE.) And he went to Harvard. Westly went to Harvard wannabe Stanford. But he's from the Bay Area. Oh, and Westly's website is a lot higher tech; I guess he learned something at eBay.

I've heard, though, that in order to get a take advantage of recent news to get a last-minute edge, the Treasurer has decided to "rebrand" himself as "Angelides Jolie".

Blond, chiseled-faced Westly has responded by noting his own resemblance to a blond, chiseled-faced actor, so that now the whole election has been rebranded, or "reBranned", as "Brangelides", with the degree of nastiness likened to that shown in "Mr. & Mrs. Smith". ("Brangelina", actually, sounds to me more like a high-fiber natural cereal than a couple.)

Personally, I think that, given that there's no real difference between them (oops, spoiler?), if Westly wants to be Brad Pitt, Angelides should be Edward Norton, and the election modeled on "Fight Club".

I mean, considering that one of them will be going up against Arnold Schwarzenegger, they'd better start working on becoming movie action heroes. (Although I watched "Terminator 3" the other day, and it was awful. Well, it was awful even if you liked the first two in the series. It had none of their originality; everything in it had been done in the first two, and it didn't even make sense on its own terms. I'm almost glad that Schwarzenegger has gone into politics, if it will keep him from making movies like this. By the way, I refuse to call him, or any other politician, by his first name, no matter how many campaign signs they put out bearing it in bigger letters than the surname, or how difficult that surname is to pronounce.)

By the way, note that I use "Democratic" as the adjectival form of "Democrat" : "Democratic Party", "Democratic nomination", etc. Ever notice how many Republicans refuse to do this? They speak of "Democrat plans" or the "Democrat Party". (The latter of which is just wrong, since "Democratic" is part of the party's official name, not a descriptive term.) To them, I guess, "Democratic" is too evocative of its small-d version. (So one could argue that the party is unfairly trying to take advantage of this connotation, and so the Republicans are under no obligation to use the non-neutral term, any more than the Democrats would call their rivals the value-loaded "Grand Old Party".) "Republican", of course, is both noun and adjective (maybe the Republicans would argue that if *they* have to use the same word, so should the Democrats. It's interesting how when the Democrats started out under Jefferson, they were called "Democratic-Republicans"; "democratic" had a negative connotation to the Founding Fathers as suggesting mob rule, while "republican" (small r, of course), described the form of government guaranteed to all the states in the Constitution (Article IV, Section 4). Today, "democratic" is always used positively, at least in this country, to describe the sort of government we want to bring to the world (whether it wants it or not), and "republican", almost never in any context. Is it better to have a term unique to you, or to have a name with other meanings, and hope they will be positive?

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