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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


November 21, 2005

Missing the Point

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Baltimore’s Sun (henceforth known as the BS) does a lot of good. They bring a “big city” feel to Baltimore news coverage. They highlight the good things that happen in Charm City, serving as a print counterpoint to the frequent violent drug and gang-related street crime that continues to plague that city.

Recent editions of the BS feature the race for the Maryland United States Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

Instead of focusing on the policy differences of the candidates hoping to replace Senator Sarbanes, the BS has decided to focus more type to the question of whether or not Oreo cookies were thrown at Lt. Gov. Michael Steele during a campaign appearance three years ago.

In case you avoid sweets or are just got off the boat, Oreos are a chocolate cookie sandwich with a white icing center. In racially motivated slang terminology, Oreo is used as a crude analogy for any African-American who demonstrates independent thought and judgment that differs with the NAACP or other minority advocacy organizations.

Lieutenant Governor Steele is a Christian conservative. His pedigree shows a blue-collar upbringing, with a mother who worked multiple jobs to care for her family.

A seminary education, law school, and a successful legal and consulting career helped shape Lieutenant Governor Steele’s view of economics, business, and life in general.

Since Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich first announced Michael Steele as his choice for a running mate, Democrats and minority groups have been attacking Mike Steele’s credentials and credibility as a potential leader.

The Democratic choice for governor in 2002, Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend, chose retired Adm. Charles Larson for her running mate. I recall the dull thud that accompanied her choice and the dismay of state Democrats when the differences between Mike Steele and Charles Larson became obvious during the campaign.

Lieutenant Governor Steele had run the state Republican Party, and had led successful voter registration drives, expanded the party to include a growing Hispanic population, and re-energized the GOP base throughout the state.

Admiral Larson, on the other hand, had been a Republican before switching parties to join KKT’s efforts to replace Gov. Parris Glendening. No Democrats that I know, not a single one, celebrated her choice.

During the KKT/Ehrlich campaign, both Mr. Steele and Mr. Larson attended a debate at Morgan State University. Prior to the event, liberal special interest groups were seen distributing snack-sized packages of Oreo cookies to people who were entering the auditorium. That fact was reported in daily papers, and was not disputed at the time.

What actually happened inside the hall is under question, and is subject to interpretation depending upon who is asked.

Some supporters of Lieutenant Governor Steele and witnesses at the event report that Oreos were either thrown or rolled onstage, before, during or after the event. Democrats and reporters from the BS state that the event organizer reports finding no Oreos left anywhere in the auditorium.

There have actually been three separate reports in the BS about whether Oreos were thrown, rolled, or even present at all. At the rate they’re going, the great Oreo-tossing controversy will be one of the most covered stories in the BS this year!

Unfortunately, the story that really needs to be told is the deafening silence from leading Democrats in Maryland. In fact, the quotes from legislative leaders feeds and fuels the story, like the President of the Maryland Senate referring to the lieutenant governor as an “Uncle Tom,” and other delegates and senators suggesting that Mr. Steele has no credibility on issues since he has turned his back on his race.

Even Howard Dean, the chairman of the national Democratic Party, refused to specifically denounce the attacks against Lieutenant Governor Steele. Former Vermont Governor Dean made reference to the use of race in campaigns, suggesting that is wasn’t right.

When Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert asked Dr. Dean to comment about the infamous Oreo incident, he fell back on the BS as a source and suggested that it might not have happened the way it was reported.

Chairman Dean completely sidestepped the whole Steele issue. Pretending racism in politics isn’t a prevalent issues just doesn’t make it go away.

I often wondered about institutional reverse racism, and how prevalent that phenomenon is in Maryland. The race for the U.S. Senate is bringing that issue to light for all Marylanders to see in plain view.

Michael Steele has spent his energy in several areas during his service as lieutenant governor. He has focused on expanding access for minority-owned businesses, examining the quality of our public education system, and helping Governor Ehrlich remake Maryland government and build an employment economy in Maryland.

Lieutenant Governor Steele’s record of accomplishment is undeniable, yet the BS hasn’t seen fit to tell that story. Democrat Party leaders and spokespeople do a great disservice to Maryland voters by using the politics of racial division to define the Senate race.

By so dramatically and obviously missing the point, the BS and Democrats are helping position Michael Steele to become our next United States Senator.



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