Friday, October 27, 2006
East Coast elections: The Washington Post blows it again
By Nancy Jane Moore
The supposedly "liberal" Washington Post has endorsed the right-wing Republican current governor of Maryland for another term.
Here in the Washington, D.C., metro area we're all scratching our heads over this one. One of The Post reasons -- that two-party politics would be good for Maryland -- might make since if Bob Ehrlich was a moderate Republican. But he's far to the right of most residents of Maryland, a very blue state.
It's not an accident that Ehrlich was the first Republican elected governor in Maryland since Spiro Agnew. (Remember Agnew? Nixon's Vice President who resigned in disgrace after being accused of taking bribes while he was governor of Maryland? And Agnew was a moderate, elected because he supported integration while the Democrat opposed it.) Ehrlich was elected in the first place because of the political state of affairs in 2002 and the fact the Democratic candidate ran a bad campaign, not because anyone really agreed with him.
My friend Alice says The Post endorsed him because they've never met a pro-developer candidate they didn't like. And it's true that about the only accomplishment Ehrlich can point to is ramming through the inter-county connector -- a freeway that will connect I-95 with I-270 and cut through established residential neighborhoods in Montgomery County. Developers love it; ordinary citizens hate it.
Otherwise he's done things like cut health benefits for children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants -- a decision that was fortunately just struck down (pdf alert) by the Maryland Court of Appeals. As The Post editorial points out, Maryland has enjoyed good economic times during Ehrlich's term -- because of the general economic health of this region, not due to his policies -- so cutting benefits from the needy shouldn't have been necessary. Nor should tuition increases at state colleges and other financial attacks on higher education, which are other marks of his administration.
The Post endorsement is a little forced; they describe the man as a "generally proficient, pragmatic governor, if not always a disciplined or mature one." Pragmatic is probably accurate -- he's come out in favor of stem cell research as a candidate, after opposing it as governor -- but I'd question proficient. The immaturity has been obvious in his spats with reporters.
Actually, though, an article in today's Post makes the whole endorsement clearer. It appears that the Democratic candidate, Mayor Martin O'Malley of Baltimore, has made some powerful enemies in his career. The Post notes that former Governor William Donald Schaefer and prominent lawyer and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, among others, hate O'Malley.
If the measure of someone is who his enemies are, O'Malley is doing fine by me. Schaefer was a decent governor, but he's become a caricature of himself: Although he's the current state comptroller, he managed to lose the Democratic primary in part because he made stupid sexist comments about one of his opponents.
As for Angelos -- well, any baseball fan will tell you he's ruined the Orioles. Granted, he's got lots of money, which he's apparently spending on Ehrlich, but I'm sure it will bring more votes O'Malley's way if people know he's on the other side.
Perhaps O'Malley also stepped on some toes at the upper echelons at The Post. The article doesn't mention it, but it might explain the endorsement.
O'Malley has done a decent job as Baltimore mayor. He gets a lot of African American support, even though he's white, and is generally popular in the city. And his political views are definitely a better fit with moderate to liberal Maryland than those of a right-wing Republican in the Bush mold. Supporting him makes a lot of sense.
As for The Post -- well, I pretty much gave up on their editorial page when they sucked up to Bush and waxed enthusiastic about invading Iraq. Of late some of their reporters have done a decent job of showing what an unqualified disaster the Bush administration has been, but their editorials have been, at best, mealy-mouthed, and at worst, right-wing nonsense like the endorsement of Ehrlich.
The Post has cut a lot of staff in recent years. Maybe they've joined the rest of corporate American and started outsourcing work. Some of their editorials sure sound like they were written by the Wall Street Journal.