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O'Malley Talks Leadership With Midshipmen

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, football coach Dick Vermeil and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had done it before. Last night was Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's chance.

O'Malley (D) was the featured speaker at the U.S. Naval Academy Forrestal Lecture Series in Annapolis, where he addressed 4,400 midshipmen and more than 200 attendees from visiting military and civilian academies on the subject of leadership.

O'Malley, who has faced a string of budget challenges since taking office in January 2007, spoke of the need to overcome adversity, lacing his remarks with historical references.

"Noah in building the ark had a willingness to confront adversity," O'Malley said. "Lincoln in teaching himself to read certainly demonstrated in his individual life a willingness to confront the adversity of illiteracy. When, as president, he refused to allow Fort Sumter to be evacuated thereby precipitating the Civil War, he again demonstrated a willingness to confront adversity. When Gandhi and Martin Luther King stood up to overwhelming odds, power, systemic injustice and historic inertia, they too displayed that all important quality of leadership -- a willingness to confront adversity."

Some of the more intriguing moments of the night came during a question-and-answer session, where O'Malley shared his disdain for the former HBO program, "The Wire," which showed the grittier side of Baltimore, where O'Malley served as mayor for seven years.

"I tell you what: I can't stand 'The Wire,'" O'Malley said, according to an account by the Associated Press. "I can't stand 'The Wire.' I can't say that I've ever seen an entire episode of it. I watched enough of it to know that it did not portray the full picture of what Baltimore is all about as a city."

Asked about his biggest mistake as a leader, O'Malley said it was "continuing to believe that a person subordinate to me -- but in a critical leadership position -- would be able to get it together, right himself and resume his responsibilities on the ship, so to speak."

The AP said that O'Malley didn't mention the person he was talking about but said he was "too patient with that, and I have tried to correct that by being much more focused on mission and understanding that, you know, I'm not running a summer camp here."

By John Wagner  |  January 27, 2009; 10:59 AM ET
Categories:  John Wagner  
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