By Tom Myers
It’s the moment Maryland has been waiting for: Bob’s back! Earlier this month, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. entered the race to become Maryland’s first Republican governor since Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. Well, maybe Ehrlich should be given credit as being the Maryland’s first Republican governor in the State of Maryland since Spiro Agnew. Well, then again, maybe we can stretch it to say that Ehrlich was the first Republican governor in the State of Maryland since William Donald Schaefer.
The former governor made his official announcement that would be running again against Governor Martin O’Malley at the Dewey Loman American Legion Hall in Halethorpe, not far from the home in Arbutus where he grew up. I think it’s an honor that Ehrlich chose to speak to a crowd at a building that bears the name of Dewey Loman. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the guy who, um, did something that, uh, should have been memorialized by naming an American Legion Hall after him, so people can keep in mind his very memorable accomplishments.
Harford County, proud to proclaim itself “Ehrlich Country,” was one of the recipients of one of Ehrlich’s speeches proclaiming his return to the political spotlight. The cover of the April 9 edition of the Aegis has a picture of the former governor speaking to a crowd in front of the courthouse in Bel Air. The noticeable thing is that on the side of that picture is the headline “Dirty Air Hampers Harford.” Hey, look! The Aegis, thanks to a formatting decision, inadvertently pulled a funny!
While speaking in Bel Air, Ehrlich “cautioned that he does not want people to compare the ‘Ehrlich Maryland’ with the O’Malley one.” How is he going to do that? When you are running against an incumbent, isn’t the main goal to take the position away from the guy you are running against? Isn’t the preferred tactic to say why you would do or have done better than the other guy? Call me crazy, but mudslinging has been an American tradition since Vice-President Thomas Jefferson handed President John Adams a can of whoop-ass in 1800 and took the highest seat in the land from Adams.
However, knowing what I know about the people of Harford County, Ehrlich may be able to pull off his overall campaign strategy. All they have to do is hear the name “Bob Ehrlich” and they will automatically agree to anything that he says and go along with anything that he proposes. I imagine if he wants to institute a program to euthanize stray cats, there will be no fuss coming from Harford County. “Good, I’m tired of ‘em chasing my birds away and burying poop beneath my liriodendra.” However, if Governor O’Malley were to put such a plan in place, the reaction would be, “There’s goes that Owe’Malley taking away my right to chase the damn cats out of my yard myself! That’s just like what Stalin did when he had the gulags!”
Ehrlich is not the only one looking for a rematch against a previous opponent. State Senator Andy Harris is saying good-bye to Annapolis so he can run (again) against Congressman Frank Kratovil in the race Maryland’s first Congressional District. Kratovil narrowly defeated Harris in November 2008. Even though we have yet to reach the apex of the political campaign season, I have a feeling that watching the Ehrlich/O’Malley and the Harris/Kratovil contests will be like watching a rerun of an old show on cable.
Would someone please tell me why the Republicans feel the need to put the same guy up against a Democratic incumbent? In my mind, that’s one thing where the Democrats definitely have an upper hand over the Grand Old Party. The Democrats at least have a sense of mind to nominate different people to take on Republican incumbents. They learned that lesson with Adlai Stevenson and that was in 1956!
It is not as though Ehrlich needs to win this non-grudge match in order to stay in the public eye. He can make public appearances just as he did at the Baltimore Ravens training camp in the summer of 2009, as is shown in this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v1ujVtewFM), which starts with him using the back of a child to sign an autograph for a fan. I can imagine that conversation between father and son. “Go on, boy. Daddy needs Ehrlich’s signature right next to Johnny U’s in his den. Go over to the man, bend over and let him use you as a portable writing desk. It’s for the good of the state of Maryland, son!”
Ehrlich can go back to his WBAL radio show where he promised to avoid “classless” direct criticism of Governor O’Malley on his show by going on FOX 45 and providing direct criticism of Governor O’Malley, as is provided in this 2009 interview conducted by Jeff Barnd, where the former governor is clearly looking out for the little guy in the best way he can on the “Political Pulse” segment.
BARND: “I don’t know what good speed cameras are doing and I get a lot of emails here from a lot of irate taxpayers saying, ‘This is just another way for the state to raise money’ and, you know, “What’s next, shower cameras if you’re not showering correctly?’”
EHRLICH: “Sure. Yeah, it is. It’s Big Brother and in this case, this year in the General Assembly, they basically even dropped the pretense about safety and all that. It’s just cash, Jeff.”
BARND: “Making money! It’s not about safety.”
EHRLICH: “It’s making money. It’s in the taxpayers again and by the way, these things generate a lot of money for local government and for state government.”
EHRLICH: “So the fact of it is I believe it’s bad policy, it is Big Brother, it’s simply to produce revenue, generate more revenue during a downturn in the economy. I vetoed the bill when I was Governor and I’m sad to see it pass now.”
Wow! How inspirational! I guess I can cite Governor Ehrlich now whenever I get pulled over by a Harford County Sheriff’s Deputy who wants to give me a ticket for speeding. I can now tell him, “Sorry, officer, but here in Harford County aka Ehrlich Country, Bob Ehrlich says you citing me for speeding is not only bad policy and Big Brother, and a way to generate revenue when the economy is bad. And you know what? Bob Ehrlich also says this has nothing to do with safety!” All of this before I, like a proud Marylander, pull away from the confused law enforcement officer, continuing at my excessive speed leaving him in a cloud of dust and burnt rubber.
Ehrlich could always speak at conservative conferences such as the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which met in New Orleans the same week that he officially announced his candidacy. No one could have denied him the chance to share a stage with his former lieutenant governor and Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and my favorite conservative that has ever come close to giving me an aneurysm, former (half) governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
You know Sarah Palin. She’s the one who refers to “the Obama doctrine, which is coddling enemies and alienating allies.” Then why, Sarah Palin, as a member of the opposing party to President Obama and a presumed enemy, don’t you feel coddled and why doesn’t House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is in the same party as President Obama and a presumed ally, feel alienated?
She explains one slogan as follows: “… my favorite: ‘Don’t Retreat, Reload’ and that is not a call for violence. That, of course, meaning taking an opportunity to engage and debate and to vote. It’s not a call for violence. No one, no one is calling for such a thing and the media is so desperate to discredit the people’s movement and the Tea Party movement that, you know, they’ll make that up. But no, nobody is calling for violence.” Oh, so there’s the media as well as the person in the audience at the conference holding up a blown-up picture of you aiming a rifle during a visit to Kuwait. Both of them are taking your “Don’t Retreat, Reload” slogan the wrong way and discrediting your movement. I’m glad you were there to at least tell this picture waver in person.
I have to admire how Sarah Palin has the presence of mind to ask, “Do you love your freedom?” I will say one thing. If freedom means I have to be bombarded with Sarah Palin’s point of view, then suddenly giving up freedom doesn’t sound so bad and the loss of freedom will save me a migraine. I found that the most severe headache I ever had in my life came from watching Palin’s speech because I found myself repeatedly yelling at the television, “It’s not pronounced ‘nuke-u-lar’!”
I found myself recalling some conservative friends of mine who told me that they felt Sarah Palin was trying to charm them into voting to her and John McCain. I feel as though she is trying to talk directly to me, except that she is trying to give me a brain hemorrhage.
I also found myself recalling the billboards with George W. Bush saying “You miss me yet?” The answer is no. Thanks to her pronunciation of the word “nuclear,” I feel as though Bush has never left us. Should Sarah Palin win a term as President of the United States, it will be a third Bush term. It will be the equivalent of a sequel of a cheesy science fiction movie: “Bush Part 3: The Friendly, Yet Horrifying Ingénue Comes to Life!”
I will say this much. At least I haven’t had to yell about mispronunciations to Bob Ehrlich.