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Political Animal

Still Good to Be You

By Brian Morton | Posted 6/7/2006

You’re Smooth Bobby Ehrlich, governor of the state of Maryland, and life is still grand.

You came into office claiming a mandate to raise money via slot machines, and despite losing on the issue every year, Pimlico’s still open, the budget’s still balanced, and you even sent in a budget this year that threw money around like your predecessor, Parris “Spendening.” But you’re The Man now, and despite raising taxes on real estate, doubling bridge and tunnel tolls, and implementing a “flush tax” nobody will remember, you can still run on not having raised taxes because you’ll always call them “fees.”

You’ve got to hand it to yourself, Bobby baby, putting your mug in ads touting tourism in the state, along with using former governors William Donald Schaefer and Marvin Mandel, makes you look like a moderate, while at the same time sucking up to the two of the biggest big-business crony Democrats of the modern age. You’re the Boy Wonder, all teeth and hair, with a wife who gets paid 55 grand a year to cut TV shows that only cable subscribers who specially order them can watch. You’re the original stubborn little media star, and the national Republican Party loves you for it.

President Bush may have approval ratings so low in this state that you need a Chesapeake Bay dredge to get them up high enough to see, but you’ll go stand by him—after all, disliked or not, the man brings money. With money, you can tell people whatever you want in the fall—you can always count on your pals over at Sinclair Broadcast Group to stand up for you. You won’t even need their free helicopter rides around the state, like you got from them when you were running last time, because now you’re the governor. And you’ll have dough coming out your ears in September, whereas Martin O’Malley and Doug Duncan will have spent theirs beating each other silly.

You really lucked out on this one, Bobby—O’Malley is losing strength among African-Americans in Baltimore, and Duncan’s base in Rockville grouses to anyone who will listen about how the Montgomery County executive is a tool of developers in a county disgusted by sprawl. It’s like watching the annoying neighbor’s kids whack each other for hours with Wiffle Ball bats—you could kick back and enjoy this for months.

Four years ago you called yourself a moderate on guns, after the National Rifle Association gave you an “A” on its report card. You voted against a Handgun Review Board and against a bill to ban Saturday Night Specials, but you toss the term “moderate” around like you eat it in the morning with your Wheaties. When the state’s pro-gun people jump up and start whining about how little you’ve done for them, you can point and say: “See? Both sides are complaining about me—I’m in the middle!” Lucky for you the lawmakers have never sent an assault-weapon ban to your desk—you might have had to shed the sheep’s clothing for a while in order to veto the thing. But you’re gold, Bobby—on that one the pen could stay in the holster.

You may not have the hole card of Michael Steele on the ticket this time around, but he can handle himself now—like you, he’s got no primary opponent, but he does have big-ticket national Republicans sending him money like they inherited it from their grandparents. He might have the same electoral credentials as Kathleen Kennedy Whatserface, that woman you beat four years ago, but he’ll have dough and all the time in the world to tell everyone in the state how great he is and how impressive his story is. As long as he doesn’t talk about real issues until, say, Nov. 1, he should be pretty well set to face whoever the Dems send out of their gladiator arena, dog-tired and dripping in blood.

You watched from Capitol Hill in 1999 as the Dems bought the whole electricity deregulation swindle the Enron types and their friends dreamed up. You laughed when the caps came off, because you knew that deregulated energy means someone makes a profit—and big profits mean big contributions from big business. And you’re Big Businesses’ Boy.

The pals you named to the Public Service Commission and the lobbyists for Constellation Energy Group are tighter than bugs in a rug, which let you push through your own plan when Mike Miller and the Senate crapped out at midnight on the last day of the session. And if the Constellation-Florida Power and Light Co. merger goes through? C’mon, Mayo Shattuck—you may be chairman and CEO of Constellation, but who’s your buddy? Who’s your pal? You and a dozen of your buds on the board will rake in $72 mil—don’t forget the ones who brung ya.

Yep, you’re Bobby Ehrlich, governor of Maryland, son of a car salesman, moderate as milk and smooth as glass. Everything’s coming up roses, baby—this is how you roll.

Just keep praying they keep coming up sevens, because November is a long way away.

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The Fix (8/4/2010)

Police State (7/7/2010)

Funny Business (6/9/2010)

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