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The First Lady and the Press


Maryland First Lady Kendel Ehrlich has never been shy when it comes to sharing her thoughts about her husband's political rivals or how the media is treating him.

The latest evidence of that came last week in Ocean City during an address to Republican women while the governor was attending a Maryland Muncipal League conference.

According to news reports about the gathering, the First Lady predicted that the coming election is "going to be very petty, and it's petty because (Democrats are) scared because their candidate is a failure." She was referring to Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

As for the media, Kendel Ehrlich said she does not believe ''95 percent" of what she reads in newspapers and said "the media establishment" is against her husband.

It is an open question as to whether such candor is serving her well.

A Washington Post poll released last week found that 41 percent of registered voters in Maryland view Kendel Ehrlich favorably. That's up from 36 percent in January 2004, the last time The Post asked the question.

But during the same period, the percentage of voters with an unfavorable view of the First Lady has increased more rapidly. That figure is now 22 percent, up from 10 percent in January 2004.

John Wagnerr

By Phyllis Jordan  |  July 1, 2006; 7:06 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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C'mon O'Malley campaign - time to start beating up on another woman....

First Kris Cox - who would NEVER be questioned about legitimacy if she were a white male cabinet member who had served in a high level federal appointment. But since she dared be something different than a Democrat, you try to tear her down.

Same thing with Michael Steele or any other blacks who recognize that there is more than one party out there. Tear them down, call them names, question their motives and intelligence.

Here's your chance to do the same for the first lady. Someone brazen enough to speak her mind - how dare she!!! - go ahead and start taking pot shots.

Your pattern here has really become tiresome.

Any woman or african american who is willing to look beyond your narrow confines and automatically go lockstep.... well, they better remember their place, right....

Go ahead and tell Kendel what her place is.... back in the kitchen barefoot and pregnant right?

Posted by: Let's go | July 1, 2006 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Let's go, does it hurt to be so angry all the time, or are you used to it by now? They do have prescriptions to help ease the hurt. You should talk to your doctor.

Posted by: Must hurt | July 1, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Let's Go, O'Malley's strategy is so predictable. I like to call O'Malley Clinton lite, baby Clinton, or mini-Clinton. O'Malley is definitely a "dumbed down" version of his hero, and has the Clintonesque style down to a "T". Check out his narcissistic rant about me, me, me, me at his alma mater commencement address to graduates at Gonzaga High School in 2002. It is well worth the read.

Posted by: rob | July 1, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

We need someone like Jim Webb running for governor instead of O'Malley. I'm a big ol' Democrat, but these candidates were lame. I want someone like Webb who will call it like it is...

Both Steele and Cox were chosen for their miniority status. Lets stop the screaming Republican scherade and get real. This is POLITICS people. Ehrlich's only chance to get any minority votes in this heavily Democratic state is to *surprise!* select a minorty running partner. Does this remind anyone of Keyes running for the Senate against Obama? Cox is not qualified to be the governor if something were to tragically happen to Ehrlich. Screaming about "narrow confines" from the Republican party is laughable. These are the same folks whose mantra is guns, gays, and god.

Also, if Kendel Ehrlich is stepping into the ring and talking smack she deserves to get ripped apart. Personally, I hope O'Malley's wife takes her on...because, you know the media always loves a good cat fight.

Posted by: Mr. K | July 1, 2006 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey Rob - I was present at O'Malley's 2002 Gonzage College High Shcool address mentioned in your blog. Perhaps you have a confused definition of "narcissistic". It was our son's graduation and the first time we had ever heard O'Malley speak. He blew our socks off. Why? Because he talked about helping underserved communitites and trying to make a difference in people's lives - something he credited Gonzaga having taught him. The school motto encourages its graduates to be "Men for Others." The response he got after that speech was amazing. In our view he has a lot more substance than Bill Clinton ever had.

Posted by: Eyewitness | July 1, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Eyewitness, he is an eloquent speaker, but maybe you missed the radio show where he told a caller to meet him outside and he'd kick their a** or when he called Patricia Jessamy "that gdamn b**ch." I think Bill Clinton had more class than O'Malley and I don't think very high of Bill Clinton's class.

O'Malley has failed Baltimore and he'll fail Maryland too if given the chance.

When thing Gonzaga did teach it's graduates was to be honest. After the crime stats debacle I don't think that lesson wore off too well on Mayor O'Malley.

If he cares so much about helping communities then he should've been funding schools instead of spending $300 million on a new convention center. He should've been demanding results and saying he'd take state help if that's what it took to get his schools off the ground. Instead he was busy grandstanding.

Don't mistake political aspirations for governance success--they're in two different ballparks.

As for Kendel, good for her to call it how she sees it. Why should she should be silent when her husband is assailed daily by the pages of the Baltimore Sun? Why should she be silent when O'Malley's father-in-law is campaigning for his son while legally representing Governor Ehrlich? Why should she as a woman be silenced by some age old rules of politics dreamed up by the 'good old boy' network of a few Democrats who played coronation committee games with Martin O'Malley and Ben Cardin?

The Washington Post isn't doing their job. Their wishy-washy reporting is becoming disgraceful. Blair Lee called them out and rightfully so. Duncan was wrong with Clarksburg, but O'Malley was wrong with Harborview. The difference between the two? Clarksburg turned into a huge public relations fiasco and millions in fines where Harborview paid $10,000 and moved along their happy way without even a peep from Pravda on the Potomac.

Posted by: Bryan | July 2, 2006 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me: "when" should say "one thing"

Posted by: Bryan | July 2, 2006 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Wait, Let's Go - I need to see if I've got this right. You think the Ds are somehow unfriendly to women and/or black people because the Ds treat them exactly the same way they'd treat a white guy who jumped into the political fray on behalf of the Rs? And at the same time, you imply Cox and Steele should get extra-special kid gloves simply because she's a woman and he's a black man?

I'm offended on behalf of Cox and Steele and I don't even know either of them. If you can, please tell me why a party that believes I'm only capable of success when I'm protected by kid gloves deserves my vote.

Posted by: katy | July 3, 2006 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Katy I think you missed Let's Go's point--mistakenly or intentionally I'm not sure (i'd lean towards the latter judging by the O'Malley staffers that frequent these boards). He is saying that Cox is being criticized more because she has an R next to her name. You're arguing a straw man tactic that states Let's Go is saying she shouldn't be criticized at all, but he/she is NOT saying that, just saying they should be equally criticized. However, we all know how it works.

When Steele was picked to the Lt. Gov nominee the Baltimore Sun (a virtual mouthpeice of the MD Dems) said all he brought to the ticket was the color of his skin. When Anthony Brown was picked they poured more adoration on him than they've ever done to any Lt. Governor nominee before. With Kris Cox the BaltSun and others have begun implying she's a 'token' pick. The irony being their criticism is only extended one way.

This doesn't mean she shouldn't be criticized where appropriate, but it means that if you're going to ask people about their records then you need to ask the hard questions both ways.

I understand that you want a double standard to remain Katy, but to then argue the rest of us are wrong for saying tear down that wall of bias? Cmon, that argument from you is absurd. Come back when the MOM campaign staff gives you some better lines.

Posted by: Bryan | July 4, 2006 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Eyewitness, you're entitled to your opinion about O'Malley's substance compared to former President Clinton. But by all objective measures Clinton runs circles around O'Malley. Clinton went to Georgetown and was a Rhodes scholar; by contrast, O'Malley was a mediocre student at Catholic University. Clinton went to law school at Yale and graduated with honors; O'Malley graduataed without honors from Univ of Maryland. Clinton's personal story of coming out of poverty in Arkansas is quite impressive; meanwhile, O'Malley grew up in the high-end and wealthy suburbs of DC and didn't do anything in his legal career to distinguish himself and probably wouldn't be Mayor but for marrying into one of Md's most connected political families, the Curran family. So there's really no comparison in my view and O'Malley really is a way dumbed down version of Clinton.

Posted by: Rob | July 4, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Eyewitness, if O'Malley's speech to the Gonzaga highschool grads wasn't self-centered, egotistical, self-promoting, and tasteless, then I don't know what is. After all, as a commencement speaker at a high school graduation, O'Malley was campaigning for Governor and talking about his laundry list of accomplishments, WOW! Check out this excerpt to illustrate the point. It's just one of many O'Malley patting himself on the back.

O'Malley said: "Over these last two years, Baltimore has led the nation among major cities in the rate of reduction of violent crime. According to the federal government, Baltimore has led the nation in rate of reduction of drug related emergency room admissions. The average sales price of our homes has risen from $69,000 in 1999 to $90,000 in 2001. We've seen more building in the last two years than we did all during the nineties. Our first graders in our public schools scored above the national average in reading and math for the first time in 30 years; and the number one scoring fifth grade math class in the entire State of Maryland last year was none other than the 100% proud African-American public school kids - many of them school lunch eligible - from Mt. Royal elementary school in the City of Baltimore."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 4, 2006 10:26 PM | Report abuse

The above poster clearly left out the next paragraph to which his quote was building to:

"Looking for Christ in the faces of others, especially the poor; recognizing holiness in the most humble of our neighbors; knowing that man progresses in response to adversity; understanding that expectations become behavior; risking action on the faith that one person can make a difference and each of us must try: Gonzaga."

Gonzaga teaches its students to live out their Faith by doing more than simply showing up for Sunday Mass. It means seeing the face of God in even the poorest of the poor and working for their betterment.

I was there for the Mayor's speech and it was evident then that Gonzaga had shaped his view of social justice and that the Jesuits on Eye Street taught him to work ad majorium dei glorium (AMDG) - For the Greater Glory of God.

Posted by: Mike - Gonzaga '01 | July 5, 2006 9:42 AM | Report abuse

yes, that's exactly the point Mike, why couldn't O'Malley just have left out his laundry list of accomplishments in Baltimore re crime, average home sales prices, test scores, and just talked about Gonzaga and what it meant to him, after all he was speaking at Gonzaga's graduation. I think O'Malley's tasteless braggadocio speaks volumes about him.

Posted by: tom | July 5, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

To Rob, Tom,
Mike is absolutely right about the out-of- context paragraph you cite in O'Malley's Gonzaga commencement address. You excluded 30 paragraphs which preceded it and the 9 following, in an effort to nail O'Malley as narcissistic. But you failed to mention the many self-deprecating humorous remarks and the paragraphs which acknowledged that because of the "hard work of many neighbors and their police, and a new group of people in City government, ... Baltimore has started to believe in itself again."
What he did in this commencement speech was to illustrate in a profoundly personal way, the importance of lessons he learned at Gonzaga in making the choice to take on the problems in Baltimore. In essence, he challenged the graduates to use these keystone values in making life choices and making a difference. In our view it was an appropriate and inspirational commencement speech.
Regarding Bill Clinton: since when did an Ivy League pedigree become essential for effective leadership? The caliber of Clinton's character and substance, Rhodes Scholar or not, left much to be desired. As James Carvel I beleive once remarked, "Where is the inner core?"

Posted by: Eyewitness | July 5, 2006 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Because he gave a speech of substance with real examples of the success Gonzaga taught him to reach for he is called selfish and tasteless? Nowhere in that speech does Mayor O'Malley say "I cut crime, I improved scores." He is listing the accomplishments of a city which includes more than a mayor. And why should high school graduates be inspired by the success of others - giving advice without backing that you are one who has lived success or achievement is no more meaningful than a book for grads that any schlep can buy in the checkout aisle in Giant.

Posted by: Mike - Gonzaga '01 | July 5, 2006 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of whether he wins or loses to Ehrlich, the word on the street is that O'Malley's spotty 6-year tenure as Mayor of Baltimore and his battles with Duncan and Ehrlich have totally ruined his chances of going any further beyond Maryland politics. He's damaged goods now. He made the fatal mistake of not running for Governor in 2002 when he could have won by beating Townsend and then Ehrlich. But he didn't, timing is everything in politics, and now he's been too damaged for national politics.

I'm not sure whether I'm going to vote for Ehrlich or O'Malley. Quite frankly, they both seem like virtual nonentities. In Maryland, the position of US Senator has always carried more weight and been more of a plum job than Governor anwyay. I'll be voting for Cardin.

Posted by: dan | July 5, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Dan, Re: the Word on the Street

I don't know what street you live on, but I've not heard anything like what you contend:"that O'Malley's battles with Duncan and Ehrlich have ruined his chances to go beyond Maryland politics." First of all, his only focus is the gubernatorial race, who knows if he will want to go beyond Maryland politics? And if he does someday, so what? Ultimately,the electorate will decide.
And where is the logic in your comment that since he didn't run against Townsend in 2002, he's damaged goods?
Because of the State's Constitution, the governorship in Maryland is one of the most powerful of any state in the country.
While the senatorial race is important, so too is who resides in the Governor's house.

Posted by: Not my street | July 5, 2006 2:58 PM | Report abuse

The point was that by not running in 2002, O'Malley has set himself back, and if the Dems get in the White House in 2008, he's got to wait until at least 2016 and probably 2020 to run for President.

Actually, the string of Maryland governors -- Marvin Mandel, Harry Hughes, Don Schaefer, Paris Glendenning, now Ehrlich -- have been virtual nonentities in Md, it's a dead end job. By contrast, Maryland has had some pretty notable Senators -- Joseph Tydings, Mac Mathias, Paul Sarbanes -- they all transcended Md politics and made their mark on a national level.

Posted by: Your street is a dead end | July 5, 2006 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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