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As Long as We Remember...

January 18, 2010

Humorous Politics

Steven R. Berryman

Don’t “mis-underestimate” the value of humor in the politics of the day ’round this county of late. Pardon the Bush-ism, but it seems to fit the chaos. The amount of inherent comedy now is limited only by your personal perspective in our political matters at hand here in Maryland.


Having opted for an “ego-extraction” procedure, just for this column, it should be an easy one to get through, even as my deadline looms…


Where to start?


In my travels last week, I decided to ask 16 random people who their favorite candidate would be for the now vacant seat of Charles Jenkins for the remainder of the county commissioner tern (which ends in December). My scientifically unselected sample included neighbors, friends, you know, everyone that I happened to come into contact with…


Well, 10 of 16 said that they would actually be running themselves for the open county slot, so it made for quick conversations.


Wow, that’s a really high percentage, statistically! What were the odds?


So, my two follow-on questions were obviously: “How does your platform play in Washington County;” and, of course, “How well do you know Kelly Schulz and Sheriff Chuck Jenkins!”


Just kidding, as – this time – only our own Frederick County Republican Central Committee holds sway, during their traditional secret meetings.


Fortunately I have been cultivating friends at the central committee meetings, and related events over the last year, so I knew that inside information was mine to be had for the column if I asked carefully and craftily.


A great plan to be sure, until I found out that all members of the committee had already recused themselves, and that the matter would now default to the third floor custodian at 50 Citizens Way, next to the Green Turtle Restaurant, in downtown Frederick.


For the record, member Michael Hough did request that his personal recusal be noted as separate from said noble deliberative body and other members.


Later in the same week, I stopped in for Jazz and entertainment at Café 611, located at the same number, coincidentally, on North Market Street.


Got to meet owner Randy Jones, who quickly became my Facebook buddy. He proudly showed me the spot where they collected gifts for needy kids in a wonderful Christmas effort for the local less fortunate. He fed them as well.


I love the old Chicago atmosphere and the brick wall they use as a stage backdrop for the entertainment.


Mr. Jones mentioned that, just by coincidence, the monthly Republican Club meeting was about to unfold in the party room next to us. With Central Committee member Bryan Smith ushering folks around and glad-handing, I should have known…


I couldn’t believe my luck and headed in.


Took the only open seat in the place, at a table containing political advisor Amanda Haddaway, strategist Tracy O’Dowd, and Tentacle colleague/Board of County Commissioner candidate Joan McIntyre.


Got a beer, sat down, and wondered – all too late – “why was that seat” open!


I sensed a trap, but stayed because Sheriff Jenkins was nearby at the next table, between the podium and me, so I felt safe.


Later, my confidence was betrayed as Mr. Jenkins had to leave to conduct the people’s law enforcement business, and the same chair was immediately filled by C. Paul Smith – yes – yet another seeker of that open county commissioner seat!


Amazingly, out of the 60 or so seats in this meeting, I…was the only person not running for something!


Took a quick smoke break outside after a trip to the men’s room while awaiting keynote speaker Bud Otis, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett’s chief of staff.


Just outside of the Café 611 door I ran into – of all people – Guy Djoken of the NAACP!


Yes, the Halloween hater himself.


Before I could say a word, he noticed me and flinched, offered up haplessly that Michael Hough said he could come, and then just scurried away…


Back inside… Mr. Otis gave his stump speech including some very sophisticated explanations justifying the good congressman’s tenure; that, after running on a platform of term-limits!


He said something about always had a good time driving around to events and did enjoy their talks with the congressman, and that they had made lots of friends along the way…


I jumped way out on a limb with a question for Mr. Otis, as this was – with only with one exception – a very sympathetic audience. I suspected, but wanted to know firsthand, whether the Republicans had been using all of their tools, opportunities, and connections to push back as hard as they possibly could on this Obamacare legislation mess.


He paused, and considered his response very carefully in the hushed meeting. Twice he blurted out, very sincerely “no, no they had not.”


His earlier justification for the senior status of Congressman Bartlett had partially hinged upon many now useful relations made over the years with fellows from across the aisle.


The absolutely brutal honesty struck me and made me proud and sad at the same time, as this explained much…


It had been a strange week, indeed, and I thought to myself “what next!?”


Only to find myself sharing some of Blaine Young’s scotch over at Roy Meachum’s pad.


Same time next week; don’t forget to tip the bartender.



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