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May 23, 2005

Oh, Marty, Thou Doest Protest Too Much!

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Is this the best that Martin O’Malley can come up with? Now he’s trying to blame Gov. Robert Ehrlich for dirty tricks because the media is once again reporting on rumors of past marital infidelity.

WBAL broadcast a report last Wednesday, amplified in Baltimore’s Sun, that Mrs. O’Malley had written an email in the year 2000 commenting on Martin’s motivation for positive comments about her. She suggested that his praise was driven by these rumors.

According to Mrs. O’Malley, way back in 2000, Marty’s enemies on the Baltimore City Council were spreading rumors that on his nights away from home, Marty was focused on something other than City business (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

The email surfaced when Max Curran, Mrs. O’Malley’s brother (and son of Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran), wrote to Baltimore City Deputy Mayor Michael Enright (who used to be a reporter at The Frederick News Post) that his sister was a “loose cannon” in her media communication.

Max Curran was a Public Service Commissioner, and his email was sent from an official state computer resource.

So, later on Wednesday, Mayor O’Malley issued a Clinton-style “attack the messenger” press release. He accuses Governor Ehrlich of sending an “operative” to search for this damaging information, linking the release of this latest character issue to the earlier Joe Steffan controversy.

Sorry, Marty, but you can’t have it both ways. The email search was in direct response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Baltimore TV and radio station WBAL. WBAL executives indicate that they were seeking information about the genesis of the “rumors,” and were not led to this conclusion by the Ehrlich Administration.

Note to Marty: Just because you don’t like what was discovered is not a valid reason to criticize the release.

It turns out that Mrs. O’Malley, not Joe “Prince of Darkness” Steffan, got this whole mess started. In fact, the more we learn, the more it seems that this whole festering mess came from within the O’Malley clan, not the rival Ehrlich bunch.

Not that I’m excusing Mr. Steffan’s conduct or behavior. In fact, by my reading, the Ehrlich Administration did exactly what I would expect a responsible executive to do. When Mr. Steffan’s involvement was discovered, his service with a state agency ended.

It should be noted, for the record, that an investigation released last Thursday confirmed that Mr. Steffan did not use his state computer to communicate with the Free Republic website, a charge leveled by Democrats in the legislature.

I won’t even bother to point out how hypocritical some legislators are when talking about partisan politics in state government. Suffice it to say that those who complain the loudest are some of the worst violators of ruining the legislature with spiteful partisanship.

As for the preposterous claim that no one in state government is politically motivated, just look at the political motivation of the speaker’s staff. These are some of the people most guilty of this in Annapolis, and yet they are paid state employees. Same with the Senate president, more politically motivated state employees.

My take on this affair (oops) is that the guy (O’Malley) just can’t stand that this is not breaking his way. He (and statewide Democrats) was counting on beating up Bob Ehrlich via Joe Steffan all through next year.

Further evidence of this is the screaming emanating from State Democratic Party Chair Terry Lierman. Rest assured if Terry is hollering, then the story is breaking against the Democrats’ wishes.

The fact that Mrs. O’Malley went on the electronic record about rumors of extramarital affairs a full five years before Mr. Steffan, even before Mr. Ehrlich was elected governor, just makes Marty’s protestations sound like so much whining.

And whining is the best way to describe how Marty reacts to these incidents. He fusses and fumes like a petulant child. He shifts between feigned anger and sarcasm. His uses the whole Howard Dean rhetorical glossary, everything from “dirty tricks operation” to “Newt Gingrich-style” lessons on political hate speech.

Unfortunately for Marty, Maryland voters already know all about political dirty tricks. You see we survived eight years of Parris Glendening. We’ve been dealing with House speakers, Senate presidents, and centuries of status quo-defending legislative committee chairmen who tightly control all of the legislative processes.

Political dirty tricks are old hat for us. Marty has had his own dirty tricks machine in place since he got into politics, and what he lacked on his own he could borrow from the Curran family. Just ask any of Marty’s past opponents, including folks he opposed on the City Council. They’ll talk about how innocent poor Marty is!

So, give us a collective break on this whole thing, Marty. Shut up and run for office. We don’t really care about rumors regarding your marriage; it doesn’t even relate to your ability to serve as governor. We’re a lot more interested in why kids keep dying on Baltimore’s streets, and how that translates to your ability to keep a whole state safe.

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