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


Jim Doss said...


It always seems that when one party is in power too long scandal and corruption follow. This applies to both Democrats and Republicans (please don't forget the early 90's and the numerous other examples throughout history).

I was curious to see if Steele and his “nice guy” ads could make any headway against the Democrats 2 to 1 advantage in registered voters in the state, but he didn’t make much headway. The speech Steele gave at the last Republican convention endorsing Bush was used against him very effectively by the Dems.

I was sorry to see Erlich voted out, though. He did a pretty good job of cleaning up the mess Glendening left behind, but his occasional bouts of immaturity were annoying, like on election day. I have trouble understand what O’Malley has done in Baltimore that deserves higher office. The police commissioners job was a revolving door during his tenure, the force is demoralized, and the schools continue to deteriorate. But he’s a pretty boy with national ambitions so we’ll have wait and see how he does.

I think the main issue that determined the outcome of the election was the Iraq war, and the Dems don’t have the ideological mandate for the rest of their agenda as they think. In fact, they are now just as much on the hook for the outcome of the war as the Bush administration. We will soon discover neither party has a Iraq exit strategy that will leave Iraq intact and viable as an independent country. Turn tail and run as advocated by Howard Dean and John Kerry is not a workable strategy. This is not Vietnam; the terrorist will redeploy to the US and GB to attack again when our troops leave, if not before. Being a critic of the war was good enough to get elected, but now comes the hard part—being responsible and having a strategy.

By the way, I think the crass ineptitude shown during Katrina should be equally shared between the local politicians and the federal government. Mississippi, which was hit very bad as well, to my knowledge did not have anywhere near the degree of problems that Louisiana did.


Christopher T. George said...

Hi Jim

You say, "Turn tail and run as advocated by Howard Dean and John Kerry is not a workable strategy. This is not Vietnam; the terrorist will redeploy to the US and GB to attack again when our troops leave, if not before. Being a critic of the war was good enough to get elected, but now comes the hard part—being responsible and having a strategy."

Well I think your statement kind of encapsulates the misconception that Americans overall have about what is happening in Iraq. I am sorry if I am misconstruing your view. But it seems to me that the American public at large views Iraq as a America against the terrorists and that insurgents are out to get GIs. This is partly because of the misinformation the Bush administration has fed the U.S. citizenry. However, if you look at the casualties have been piling up in Iraq, it is innocent civilians as well as Sunnis and Shiites who may or may not have affilitions with militia or political groups that are dying or are being maimed in massive numbers.

What is happening is really a civil war within Islam and within Iraq and not so much a war between Islamic jihadists and American culture. So although Americans are still hurting from 9/11 and need to guard against such terrorist action taking place here, I really think that Iraq is a special case that is separate to the terrorist problem. I think we need to face the fact that the Bush administration made a major error in going into Iraq without a plan to rehabilitate the country after the fall of Saddam. Now we are all going to pay for it for decades to come because the Bush people just keep printing funny money to pay for it all. It's utter madness.

Experts say that civil wars often take 10-12 years to work themselves out and the United States cannot afford to stay in Iraq that long. We need to recognize that a huge mistake was made in going in there in the first place. I truly believe Bush is dragging his feet over withdrawal because that would be an admission of failure.


Christopher T. George said...

Hi Jim

Thanks for contributing to my blog on the topic of Michael Steele and the election in Maryland. I somehow think and hope that O'Malley will turn out to be a better mayor than governor. The opposite indeed of Schaefer who was a more effective mayor than governor. I do agree that Erlich often came across as immature and ineffective in bitching about the Democrats instead of trying to work things out.

I noticed that African American columnist Eugene Robinson in today's Washington Post agree with me that Steele will be most remembered for liking puppies and not much else. Robinson felt that Steele and other African American Republican candidates were sacrificed as nominal candidates put up for face value to show that Repubs cared for people of color when they do nothing to for them to earn their vote. An excellent line of reasoning, I thought.


Christopher T. George said...

P.S. Well that should have read the other way round. I meant to say: "I somehow think and hope that O'Malley will turn out to be a better governor than mayor."