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October 22, 2007

Humanizing a Made-for-TV Governor

Katie Nash

The latest news stories surrounding Gov. Martin O'Malley have included endeavors to improve his public image. As he travels with his entourage to Maryland communities to unveil his ambitious tax-and-spend proposals, the media reports on the slight image adjustments O'Malley's consultants want them to see.

In Salisbury last week, Governor O'Malley's shirt-sleeves were crisply rolled to portray the image of a hard-working man of the people. The (Baltimore) Sun reported on this with more enthusiasm than his plan to compel businesses to move across state lines into Delaware.

Another recent news-story in The Sun reported that Governor O'Malley was a Star Trek fan. Clearly the governor's hench-people are hoping we'll forget that this is the same governor who will cause Maryland's Christmas shoppers to avoid the hiked sales tax and cry, "Beam Me Up to Pennsylvania, Scotty!"

Also last week, Governor O'Malley's appearance at the Garrett County Autumn Glory Festival was accompanied by his accolades of Western Maryland's "work ethic" and swipes at the previous administration. Traveling to Western Maryland to join in fall revelry was no doubt an attempt to live it up before the leaves start falling and income taxes start catapulting higher.

His town hall meetings across the state give the governor an opportunity to title his tax increases with a number of euphemisms such as "progressive reforms" and "revenue enhancements." The press continues to echo the sound bites and demonstrate pretty pictures of the governor meeting with the same citizens he will holdup when he returns to Annapolis.

Governor O'Malley and his talented group of image experts must know that his popularity is slipping with every additional tax proposal he unveils. His pollsters and data-crunchers must have uncovered a hitch in the governor's plans for higher office.

Rather than be known for massive tax increases, Martin O'Malley desperately wants to be known for his good looks and barely-there folksy appeal. With his own Democratic Party crying foul and providing Republican legislators an opportunity to say, "See, I told you so," the starship O'Enterprise may be running off-course.



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