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The Tentacle


April 29, 2005

A Couple of Dinners Tonight

Roy Meachum

Purple oratory is on order tonight. Frederick becomes a squared circle for Baltimore’s Mayor Martin O’Malley, also known as the challenger, and Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who wears the championship belt by virtue of having skunked Mr. O’Malley’s team some three years back.

Understand: they will not be breathing the same air. Heaven and the lord of high politics forbid! Each will be operating within his own comfort zone.

Bob Ehrlich will be bopping around Walkersville, holding forth at the GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner on the virtues of keeping liberals in their place, preferably six feet under.

Marty O’Malley has plans to titillate Democrats at their Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner with visions of the magic he can weave in reclaiming the State House, to complete the party’s total control of Annapolis. Otherwise described: Business As Usual.

Mr. O’Malley could help his cause by wearing the famous sleeveless shirt that shows all the muscles that delighted the ladies following his now defunct Irish band. Mr. Ehrlich might bring along his blonde better-half to amplify her charges about how the media are persecuting him and all his good works.

Preaching to a choir of Eastern Shore Republicans this week, Maryland’s First Lady put her bootie into the fray against both Baltimore’s Sun and The Washington Post. Until she cleft the air with allegations the crew at my first employer was doing wrong by her man, I didn’t know the governor had an issue with The Post.

Before an Ocean City Lincoln Day gathering, Kendel Ehrlich lambasted the area’s major newspapers; they both “lie,” she said. And what’s more, to show her respect for democracy and how it works, the Lower Shore crowd was told those naughty papers should be “punished.” No specifics, understand.

She summoned up the image of her 5-year-old boy who presumably would have his mouth washed out with soap for playing lose with the truth. I’ve got a picture of my old bosses — Russ Wiggins, Al Friendly and Ben Gilbert — foaming bubbles from the mouth. Not hardly.

The Associated Press reported her rollicking accusations were met with applause and loud cheers from the GOP’s Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset branches. But, of course. That’s what these “Day” things are all about. Incidentally, will someone please explain why the celebration for Mr. Lincoln wasn’t held on Feb. 12, marked on the calendar as his birthday. The same goes for the scheduling of the affairs honoring Tom Jefferson and Andy Jackson. Politics has become such a moveable feast.

Mr. O’Malley knows better than to rile the media beasts, but he gets his licks in. Critics are treated to the polished arrogance of the man recently celebrated by Time magazine as one of the nation’s top five mayors. No more damning indictment of our society can be imagined. Baltimore’s murder rate consistently keeps Maryland in the race for America’s most dangerous state. Unfortunately, Nevada took the cup this year.

The mayor’s record will be fair game in next year’s gubernatorial race, especially in the primary when he will almost certainly encounter Montgomery County’s Doug Duncan, who ate the local Democrats’ rubbery chicken last year.

But this is a night when all come to the affairs named for dead presidents to praise, not to question. Everyone will have on his springy shoes to bounce high in the air while cheering every crack against that other crowd. That’s how things go.

And I’m very glad not to be going. Been there, done that. Only the faces change. The rhetoric remains predictably the same. Ho-Hum.



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