"My Littlest Fascist"
Early on I addressed him as "my littlest fascist." Alex Mooney asked me once why I said that. My reply: "Because that's what you are."
Understand, this was in the senator's early years, not long after I met him, as a guest in my house for a New Year's Eve party. That evening he looked too young to vote, but the following election he went on to knock off fellow Republican Jack Derr.
The great advantage that accrued to the youthful politician was his lack of entanglement with the good ol' boys that controlled Frederick City and, for the most part, the county. James "Doc" McClellan seemed to prefer wielding his immense power off-stage, out of sight. Arbitrarily, he replaced an offending delegate with a nice man who never caused Dr. McClellan problems. The nice man lasted a single term.
Going into the election campaigns after the party, nobody smart would have put a quarter on Alex's chance of winning. He did – hands down. He stayed in Annapolis despite the challenge within his own party, notably the opposition from former Commissioner President and Delegate Anita Stup. They never met electorally head-on, but Mrs. Stup has scarcely concealed her distaste for "my littlest fascist."
Senator Mooney enjoys claiming adherence to his Roman Catholic faith. He delights in "roughing up" anyone who favors women controlling their own bodies: that might lead to choosing abortion. His church's priests and bishops laud his position, and give their blessing. You can imagine Alex's youthful face creased with grateful smiles and humble thanks. I cannot.
On the death penalty, however, he is a heretic: talking and voting to thwart the Vatican's pro-life stance. The pope and all his hierarchy condemn men killing each other. They allow human beings under their wing to take a life only to save another. That should not be difficult to understand.
In Maryland, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley – another Catholic – proves faithful to that proposition in pushing repeal of executions. He's joined, in the media, by former Sen. Joseph Tydings, who once supported the deadly needle. Mr. Tydings reveals, in the old days, he assumed the guilty were guilty. Recent studies he cited reveal one of eight people sentenced to die have been subsequently found innocent, through DNA or other means. That boils down to 12 of 100 people sitting on death row are there for crimes committed generally by someone else.
In the governor's quest to roll back the capital punishment law, the Frederick senator cast the ballot that saved the measure from extinction. But the reason he gave brought little comfort to those who condemn the cruelty of executions. Alex Mooney said he voted to keep the law alive so that he could make the measure tougher. In particular, he wanted to keep the death penalty argument going so that he could make amendments that would affect anyone convicted of slaying guards or anyone employed in prisons.
Although heavily loaded with changes that render the reform measure almost moot, he wanted to put in more. In an early vote, his proposed changes lost. It's possible he won after all. It's entirely feasible that the bill will never see the light of an Annapolis day.
And Alex Mooney can still claim credit for allowing the measure to live one more day. To be "my littlest fascist" does not necessarily mean you're naïve when it comes to legislative tactics.
To sort out the morality of such duplicity, I'm content to rely on the current set of church fathers, while expecting nothing. This is how the Vatican has dealt with the real world since time immemorial.