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Preview: RealClearPolitics - Articles - Gregory Kane

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Gregory Kane

Last Build Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 00:10:34 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

Maryland Dems Smear Steele At Their Peril

Mon, 17 Apr 2006 00:10:34 -0600

But Maryland Democrats have a history of trying to "knock down" Republican candidates with the race card. Steele is just their latest target. Surely Curry must remember that nasty business of 1998, when Republican Ellen Sauerbrey ran for governor against then-incumbent Gov. Parris Glendening. In a classic case of race-based smear tactics gone amok, Democrats ran television ads saying that Sauerbrey opposed three civil rights bills. Each time the ads mentioned civil rights, a black face would appear on the screen. The record shows that Sauerbrey voted against rewording an open housing law, a second statute requiring Maryland State Police to document crimes against gays and a third that favored more protection from sexual harassment. Most Democrats had no use for such facts. But four of them with a sense of shame did, and told everyone who would listen that Sauerbrey wasn't a racist and that her record was being distorted. Three of the Democrats were former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former state Sen. Clarence Mitchell III and Del. Frank Boston. The fourth was Curry. The candor of these four black Democrats didn't help Sauerbrey. She lost the election. But at least Maryland voters were put on notice about what to expect from Democrats whenever any Republican raised a serious challenge to their hegemony in Maryland. The straight-out-of-the-toilet politics practiced by Maryland Dems in 1998 prompted me to give them my Golden Commode Award. They won it again in 2002, with that nasty "Oreo cookie" episode during a debate of gubernatorial candidates at historically-black Morgan State University. (That was the incident in which Oreo cookies were either brandished or thrown at Steele. Democratic supporters say it never happened. Republican supporters who say they attended the debate swear it most certainly did.) This was the same campaign in which Mike Miller, the president of the Maryland state senate, called Steele an Uncle Tom. (Miller apologized for the remark but I gave him a separate, honorary Golden Commode award all his own.) If their tactics against Steele in 2006 are any indication, it looks like the Dems might cop a third straight Golden Commode Award. They can't use the racist argument this time: Steele is black. So the Dems have switched tactics. They concede Steele is black, just not black enough. In November of last year the Washington Times ran a story in which several black Maryland Democrats claimed Steele "does not share the same political policies and values as most African-Americans," according to a Nov. 4, 2005 article in the Baltimore Sun. It was the "Oreo cookie" incident all over again, only more refined. The implication was that Steele, while black on the outside, was still as white as Oreo cookie icing on the inside. What those black Maryland Democrats meant was that Steele doesn't share the same political policies and values of most black Maryland Democrats, who are out of step with large numbers of black Americans on a variety of issues. Take vouchers and school choice. Some polls show many blacks are for both, but you'd be hard pressed to find a black Maryland Democrat in public office who feels the same way. There are also many blacks who oppose abortion, as Steele does. Add to those blacks who oppose abortion in all instances, those who don't support publicly-funded abortions or abortions for minors without parental consent and you probably have a majority of blacks. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Maryland's black Democratic leaders oppose the death penalty doesn't support their contention that Steele is not in accord with their policies and values. As a devout Catholic, Steele is opposed to the death penalty too. Steele and Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich supported a state school board measure to have the state take over 11 failing Baltimore schools earlier this month. Most black Democrats opposed the measure, but two on Baltimore's City Council didn't. Perhaps the most notable is Keiffer Mitchell, the nephew of the same Clarence Mitchell III who c[...]

Rights & Responsibilities

Thu, 30 Mar 2006 00:09:39 -0600

Here in my home state of Maryland -- which won't be my home state for long, if this trend continues -- there is an election-year push in the state legislature to restore voting rights for felons as soon as they leave prison. Four years ago, just before then-Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. became the first Republican governor of Maryland in 36 years, the legislature passed a law restoring voting rights to felons three years after their release, even though there was already a process in place for felons to restore their voting rights.

Before 2002, only two-time felons were disenfranchised in Maryland. To have their voting rights restored, they had to apply to the governor for a pardon.

This process didn't sit well with the more liberal side of the Maryland legislature for two reasons. Number one, it was an election year. Maryland Democrats wanted to hedge their bets and ensure that the state would have another Democratic governor by padding the voting rolls with as many Democratic voters as possible. The second reason was because the process smacked too much of requiring felons to show some initiative and personal responsibility.

If you were a two-time felon in Maryland before 2002, restoring your voting rights was your responsibility. After all, you were the idiot who chose to commit not one, but two felonies. Because you failed to live up to your responsibilities to live the life of a law-abiding citizen, you had your voting rights taken away. You needed to show some responsibility to have those rights restored.

See how it's supposed to work, this marriage of rights and responsibilities? Of course you do. This isn't three-variable calculus or quantum physics. This is actually pretty simple stuff. So simple, in fact, even liberals in Maryland should be able to get it.

But they don't.

We all have the right to free speech. We all have the responsibility to keep civil tongues in our heads.

We all have the right to freedom of the press, whether we own a wealth of printing presses or crank out a piddling, online newsletter. We all have the responsibility not to commit slander or libel.

We have the right to peaceably assemble. We also have the responsibility to keep it orderly.

We have the right to vote. But in order to exercise that right we have the responsibility to obey the laws of the land. Should we fail in that responsibility by committing a grave crime, however, the right to vote is taken away and must be earned back.

Four years ago a Maryland state senator explained how simple it actually is. Andrew P. Harris is a Republican from Baltimore County. I interviewed Harris for my column in the Baltimore Sun about the then-proposed bill that granted voting rights to felons after three years. His answer is as appropriate now as it was then.

"Taking away a felon's voting rights says that person has broken a contract with society," Harris told me. There is, Harris continued, a three-stage process to restoring the contract.

"The first stage is prison," Harris said. "The second stage is parole and the third is restoring voting rights."

Harris added that the process must be on a case-by-case basis, like parole. That way, we can distinguish the felon serious about becoming a law-abiding voter from the one who will, for example, go back to some of the same corners where Baltimore's notorious Stop Snitching DVD was shot.

Harris' proposal is based on the premise of responsibility. No wonder liberals in Maryland rejected it.