Last night when I first read Tamela Baker’s (former reporter and editor of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail) op-ed about the Maryland Republican Party having a death wish, somehow (tired I guess) I missed the extent of the condescending sneer in it, but this morning it’s intolerable. I don’t know Ms. Baker at all, but am guessing she is not a Republican, but would like us to think she has some superior political insight (a sure sign of a Democrat).
This little bit at the end of ‘Moving further to the right won’t help MD GOP’ tells me all I need to know about Ms. Baker.
Last time the Maryland GOP was so giddy, Bob Ehrlich was governor. Republicans had more seats in the General Assembly, and they believed their party was on the cusp. So they got a little cocky.
Remember how that turned out? I sure do. I happened to be in the room in 2006 when Senate President Mike Miller — arguably the most powerful Democrat in the state — famously declared that in that year’s election, “we’re going to bury them face down in the ground, and it’ll be 10 years before they crawl out again.”
Baker seems quite proud to let us know she hangs with the big (mean) boys. No qualms here about repeating threatening and violent rhetoric! Indeed! Where is the much vaunted Democrat Party civility?
Now that we have established that Ms. Baker is not offering friendly advice, here is more of her thesis on how she thinks the Republican Party should be running its business.
For readers not familiar with the report that there might be a newer/younger group of Republicans vying for the minority leadership reins in Annapolis, here is Ms. Baker’s version of recent history (we told you about it here in early August):
Earlier this month a friend who lives in another county sent me (and several other people, I suspect) a note asking if we “ever notice that House of Delegates Republicans always seem to form their firing squads in a circle?”
This observation was prompted by a reported coup plot by Del. Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, against House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell, who represents Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.
But despite their dismal showing in the election just past, they opted to swing further right with the O’Donnell/Shank team.
Fast-forward to 2011, and suddenly Kipke’s decided O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Shank’s replacement as whip, are just too moderate. Kipke obviously knows O’Donnell a lot better than I do; he always impressed me as being so right-minded he could hardly stand to sit on the left side of a car. Imagine how stunned he must have been to wake up one morning and find he’s not conservative enough. And the real kicker is that the proposed more-conservative whip is Mike Smigiel — the same Mike Smigiel who sought that position with Kach, the moderate, in 2006. [Readers, today Mike Smigiel is the chairman of the House of Delegates Tea Party Caucus.]
This little brouhaha coupled with the recent selection of uber-right Alex Mooney as state party chairman just begs somebody to ask Republican party leaders a simple and obvious question:
Are you TRYING to self-destruct?
Is it not possible, Ms. Baker, for political winds to shift? Is it not possible that with Obama in the White House and O’Malley in the State House that Marylanders are heading in a more conservative direction? Is it not possible that people and elected officials shift their thinking as they mature/or we go broke (you know the old saying: not liberal at twenty, you have no heart, not conservative at forty, you have no brain)?
Are elected officials not permitted to respond to a shift in the political climate? After all, there was no Tea Party grassroots backing for conservatives in 2006. Are younger or newer delegates or senators never permitted to come up with fresh ideas they would like to implement by challenging the old guard? Or, does Ms. Baker wish for the Republicans to continue to be “face down in the ground” like the all powerful Mikey (the bully) Miller does?
Ms. Baker’s logic escapes me. First she tells us that Kipke and Smegiel aren’t that conservative anyway (so how then would the party be shifting rightward?) then throws in all this stuff about the recent successful petition drive on in-state tuition which she says is an issue which cuts across political parties. On that last point we agree.
That, apparently, is where Neil Parrott comes in.
Kipke, it seems, credits the success of the recent Tuition Petition, spearheaded by Parrott and Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, with energizing the Republican base. O’Donnell’s great transgression, according to Kipke, was not throwing enough party leadership support onto the petition bandwagon.
There are a couple of problems with this logic, the first of which is that the legislation the petition targets (allowing children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates to state schools) was never a party issue in the first place. The bill was so controversial it passed by narrow margins in both the Senate and the House — which means lots of Democrats (including John Donoghue) voted against it. The petition sponsors themselves have boasted about the number of Democrats who signed up. When an issue doesn’t pass the smell test with so many Marylanders, it hardly translates into an exclusively Republican sentiment.
Yes, agreed, it is not exclusively a Republican issue and results of the wildly successful drive tell me anyway that Marylanders are more to the center right then they are to the O-Malley/Obama hard left.
All these contortions (with crocodile tears streaming) that Ms. Baker goes through to warn the Republican Party to not shift further right (if indeed they are) when what is happening is as simple as: voters are generally getting more conservative (national polls tell us that); the petition drive in Maryland was further proof of a shift in Maryland; Tony O’Donnell misread the mood of Maryland voters on the issue; the Democrat Party has a vested interest in keeping the ‘devils they know’ (the same leaders) in place; and younger/newer delegates want a shot at the leadership to promote new ideas and strategies.
That is politics, not a circular firing squad.