Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bloggito, ergo sum...I blog, therefore I am? Check out this from the online magazine, Slate, asking "Who are these Bloggers?" I certainly don't fit the under 30 category, and I'm not male. I have published before, though I don't know if anyone ever read my piece on the Tripp-Lewinsky affair -- "Sex, Lies and Videotapes." My purpose in writing this blog is to influence public opinion (It's too ambitious to expect to "change" public opinion, but maybe someday I could contribute to the formation of public opinion) -- all of which will be hard to do if no one ever finds this blog. I'm going to have to figure out how to generate visibility. I don't even know how to find out if this site is getting any hits (besides me).

I'd love to get the readership that Kos gets. No wonder he loves his life. I started this blog because, frankly, I think my opinion is worth something. And, I have enough faith in my opinions and my instincts to believe that I could make a positive contribution if the 'deciders' heard what I have to say. Any help in reaching the 'deciders,' or the public at large, would be much appreciated.

In an prior post, I promised to weigh in on the little ruckus stirred up by Maryland's own Lieut. Gov. Michael Steele. There's a piece in Slate, written by John Dickerson, on the sudden notoriety/infamy the Maryland Republican Senatorial candidate has generated for himself, this week. Before I get into Steele-gate, there's another race I want to discuss.

We, here in Maryland are about to dive into a really interesting race for Governor. I'm sorry that Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan had to drop out of the Democratic primary race, because I think he is one of the most competent elected officials around. On the other hand, Martin O'Malley is a true media darling, and fairly drips charisma every time he rolls out of bed (I probably shouldn't mention beds, given the scurrilous rumors that members of the Ehrlich campaign were spreading earlier). O'Malley is challenging a fairly popular incumbent in Robert Ehrlich. Not that Ehrlich was so popular when he was first elected.

The whole situation here reminds me so much of George Pataki's ascendancy in New York. No one even knew who he was, but he seemed likable enough, and the people were no longer inclined to vote for the Democrat, my beloved Mario Cuomo. In Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend turned everybody off with a desultory campaign. So, Ehrlich slid in by default, in a state that is solidly blue.

Anyway, most Marylanders would not agree with Ehrlich's priorities, but he is personally popular. He just doesn't seem as easy to hate as most Republicans elsewhere. So, the Governor's race will be very interesting this time around. I don't think that Ehrlich is as entrenched as Pataki became in New York. And O'Malley is a much stronger challenger than Pataki ever faced. The smart money all seems to be on O'Malley, and this is supposed to be the first big step for him on his inevitable arc to the White House. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but the people I've talked to are expecting a much closer race than the predictions would lead one to believe.

Which brings us to Michael Steele, and the race for the outgoing Senator Paul Sarbanes' seat. Steele isn't Bob Ehrlich and he isn't a sitting governor. He's the Lieutenant Governor, and one who seems to have been scrupulously ignored within the Ehrlich Administration. No one can point to anything that Steele has done since the election. He promised deeds earlier, including a plan to study and make a recommendation to Gov. Ehrlich on the death penalty. Steele indicated he had concerns about racial inequalities in capital cases, but has done nothing about it. He was blasted this past April, when he finally announced that he was recommending that the Governor set up a commission to study the issue. Democratic Party spokesman Derek Walker was quoted as saying "Three and a half years to suggest nothing but further study?"

Steele really helped himself this week -- Not!! He was quoted anonymously disparaging the Bush Administration's policies. He likened being a Republican in the state to wearing a "scarlet letter." And, he said he probably wouldn't invite Bush to campaign for him, because the President is so unpopular in this state. When Steele was outed by the bloggerati as the anonymous source for the Washington Post story, he backed off. Now he's saying Bush is his "homeboy." According to Post columnist Marc Fisher, "Steele's understanding of politics seems mired in the old game of saying different things to different audiences." see

So, that's Michael Steele. He seems like a nice enough, affable guy (I thought he did a great job on Bill Maher's HBO show), but Steele hardly seems a profile in political dynamism or courage. The sorry truth is that if Steele weren't an African-American himself, in a state where African-Americans are the core constituency in the Democratic Party's statewide majority, this race wouldn't be on anyone's radar screen.

The real race here is for the Democratic nomination. There are other candidates, but the leading candidates are former Congressman and NAACP head Kweisi Mfume and Baltimore-area Rep. Ben Cardin. Die-hard liberals aren't exactly excited about the prospect of Cardin winning the seat (, but he's leading in money and he is leading the early polls. Right now, I'm not prepared to weigh in on or handicap that race. I'm not even sure who I will vote for in the primary. Stay tuned.....

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