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June 6, 2012

“Just the facts, Ma’am”

Kevin E. Dayhoff

In case you have missed it, stubborn facts, Maryland economic policies and Gov. Martin O’Malley have been the focus of national attention in the last several months.


For many, the state’s economy and Maryland’s leadership are looked upon as a proxy referendum on the economic policies of President Barack Obama. For that matter, on February 7, 2012, The Wall Street Journal referred to Governor O’Malley as “Maryland’s Son of Obama.”


While you are on the Journal’s website, do not miss, “O’Malley’s Tutorial, Maryland’s Governor offers a lesson in progressive taxation”or “The Governor's subsequent letter-to-the-editor in the Wall Street Journal on February 15, which attempts to refute the Journal's editorial page, with the same talking points even casual observers of our state have heard many times.”


Meanwhile, Josh Hicks, who writes for The Washington Post, has not forgotten, “Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2008 election.”


In an article he wrote on May 31, “Gov. O’Malley’s selective facts on Romney and Bush,” Mr. Hicks discussed Governor O’Malley’s proxy advocacy for President Obama on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” May 27, 2012.


In addition to Governor O’Malley, also playing a starring role in this year’s presidential election is the Maryland Business for Responsive Government ( led by another rising star, attorney Kimberly M. Burns.


On May 24, MBRG posted on its Facebook page: “OUCH! Wall Street Journal Hits Maryland Again!! Headlines are: ‘O'Malley's Tutorial: Maryland's Governor offers a lesson in progressive taxation.’(May 23, 2012 Opinion Section). Not a good article for a governor with national aspirations; but then, not a good tax policy for those of us left behind either…” Also take note of “Governor O’Malley: Facts are stubborn things,” on the MBRG website.


Whether it is on the national level or the local Maryland bleacher seats, much of the current dialogue, err, operatic rhetoric, over our nation’s current economic state is all about facts. Moreover, whose facts are more truthful than the others?


Take for example the most recent discussion of movie star Sarah Jessica Parker’s assertion that President Obama has created four million jobs.


For a great read on this new depth of national shallowness, slip on over to the wide side and read Suzi Parker’s take, “Does Sarah Jessica Parker’s Obama ad cheapen the White House?”


Well, duh.


But, anyway, in this ad, that dumps gasoline on the campfire discussions over “facts’ in this year’s elections, Suzi Parker quotes Sarah J. Parker as saying:


“Okay, the guy who ended the war in Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want, and the guy who created four million new jobs, that guy… Because we need him and he needs us.”


OMG! Is this really happening? Just kill me, now.


Meanwhile, back to the nation’s future, former George W. Bush confidant Karl Rove wrote the other day in The Wall Street Journal, “Why 2012 Is Not 2004.”


I’ll take Mr. Rove’s commentary one-step further and take you back to Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign against George H.W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.”


Here’s the thing. Mr. Rove explains it well. “The 2012 election will be a referendum on Mr. Obama's performance, not against terrorism, but on the economy. Only 42% in the May 20 ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy while 55% disapprove.


“Meanwhile, the economy is seen as a strong point for Mr. Romney. When asked ‘Which candidate do you trust to do a better job handling the economy?’ Mr. Romney polls as high or higher than Mr. Obama.”


This, while all the “facts” have been flying recently. After last Friday’s weak jobs report, enter into the fray the likes of Governor O’Malley and Sarah J. Parker to distract voters as much as possible with numbers that are often “factual” and do not tell the truth.


According to numerous media reports, unemployment in May came in at 8.2 percent with only 69,000 new jobs created.


Furthermore, Terence P. Jeffrey, writing for, is reporting that “the number of American women who are unemployed was 766,000 individuals greater in May 2012 than in January 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”


A year ago, on June 14, 2011, Matt Cover wrote in that “twenty-eight months after Congress passed President Obama’s signature economic stimulus law, and nearly one year after he declared the summer of 2010 to be “Recovery Summer,” 1.9 million fewer people are employed.”


However, in the end, many will agree with Glenn Kessler, who recently wrote in The Washington Post that “few things are more bothersome than that rare instance when fact checkers disagree. Our column last week, in which we awarded Three Pinocchio’s to Carney for citing a MarketWatch column on Obama’s spending patterns, stood in contrast to PolitiFact awarding a “Mostly True” to a Facebook post based on the MarketWatch column…”


“As we mentioned in our original column, looking at spending as a percentage of the gross domestic product puts Obama in the worst light. The most authoritative examination of this question would be by the experienced budget analysts at the CBO or the Office of Management and Budget. We continue to find it curious that the White House would rely on the work of bloggers for budgetary analysis rather than the career employees who do this for a living.”


And there’s the rub. No one seems to be able to tell you what is a fact and what is not. In the end, this election is not going to be about disputes over meaningless numerology.


This election is going to be about which candidate do you trust to do a better job handling the economy? And that is a stubborn fact.


 . . . . . I’m just saying. . . . .


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