Friday, November 10, 2006

Man of Steele

Maryland senatorial candidate Michael Steele, the state's Republican lieutenant governor and an African American running against Democrat and 35-year veteran Congressman Benjamin L. Cardin to fill retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes' seat, will be remembered not only for his ad with the trash cans, accusing the Democrats of dirty tricks, but also his expressed liking for puppies. He came across as a nice guy but a politician with no substance. I felt no inclination to vote for him. He will be remembered as a well groomed candidate who intoned in his "Real Ideas for Change" video: "Soon your TV will be jammed with negative ads from the Washington crowd. . . saying Steele hates puppies, and worse. For the record, I love puppies. . ." His following idea to ban on all gifts from lobbyists was worthwhile, if hollow coming from a Republican in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Possibly Michael Steele is no worse than any other politician, although he seems inexperienced and naive. As nice a guy as he might be, I felt about him the same way I felt about the last lieutenant governor of Maryland to run for higher office, Kathleen Kennedy Townshend, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, who was repudiated by the people of the state in her attempt to run for Governor of Maryland four years ago in the election that saw Robert Leroy "Bob" Ehrlich, Jr., Congressman for Maryland's 2nd Congressional district, beat her handily to become Maryland's 60th governor.

The election fight between Ehrlich and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in the Maryland gubernatorial race that saw O'Malley triumph to become the state's 61st governor on Tuesday was also down and dirty. As did many, I was not sure Mr. O'Malley deserved to be governor. Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodericks and the Baltimore City Paper both pointed out that O'Malley has not finished the job that he promised to do in Baltimore let alone to run for higher office.

Ehrlich's Republican administration was accused of underhanded tactics. A well publicized exposé showed Ehrlich and his henchman fired state workers from the state government to install Republicans instead. It was also reported in the Washington Post on Wednesday that the Ehrlich campaign bused in homeless people to Prince Georges County to campaign for Ehrlich and Steele, giving them $100 and two meals and misleading ballots to hand out. The ballots misidentified Gov. Ehrlich and Michael Steele as Democrats and failed to tell potential voters that they were Republicans.

There is no doubt though that the Dems swept to victory because of the mistakes of the Bush Administration, going into the disastrous war in Iraq, a major mistake on George W. Bush's part for which this nation will be paying for generations, along with the crass ineptitude shown following the Katrina tragedy, and the malaise of the numerous scandals that have dogged Republicans.

Under Arc Lights

It's election night in our nation's capital.
In Union Station, caterers lay power tables,
prepare designer meals, slaughter the fatted calf.

Under arc lights and a weeping sky, reporters speak
to the yearning nation, makeup perfect, faces shining
in the reflected light of silver photographic umbrellas.

And in forwarding bases, desert camouflage boots shuffle,
orders bark new recruits and men on yet another tour, move
off to the faroff land where their nation sends them.

Christopher T. George