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At Long Last, The Peace Talks Annapolis Craves

Frankly, I didn't think President Bush had it in him. After half a century of anguish and division, there is finally hope, thanks to today's peace conference at the Naval Academy, that the seemingly eternal rift could be repaired, and residents of Annapolis and the Maritime Republic of Eastport might once again live in harmony.

Obviously, the president wouldn't call diplomats here from around the world just to take another stab at resolving the impossible stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians. There had to be a secret explanation for today's meeting. I'm pretty confident it's the Eastport situation.

Since 1951, when Annapolis annexed a stretch of waterfront across the drawbridge from its downtown, the city and Eastport have faced off over taxes, politics, culture and class. Sadly, the divide collapsed into open warfare in 1988, when Eastporters and their dogs rebelled against what they dubbed "snobbish Annapolis Proper." Muskets and cannons rang out in the afternoon sun, peppering the Annapolis side of the bridge with a heavy barrage of Brussels sprouts.

More recently, the battle has been played out across Spa Creek, over which Annapolitans and Eastporters conduct an annual Tug of War with a 1,700-foot-long rope.

Cynics will call the president's decision to reach out to the nations of the world for a peace conference on behalf of Annapolis a politically inspired gesture in the waning months of his administration. But I see no reason to scoff at the magnanimous move by a president who grew up sailing and understands Annapolis's appeal and the global urge for peace on the city's shores.

I have to admit, when I first heard about the peace talks, I thought they were an equally surprising and welcome effort by the president to cross party lines and seek a rapprochement between Maryland's Democratic titans of political prowess, Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch. But then Busch caved to Gov. Martin O'Malley's pleas on legalizing slots gambling in the state, and now Maryland voters will decide next year whether to put 15,000 slot machines in five casinos. Peace talks hardly seem necessary at this point.

Alternatively, I figured, the Annapolis talks might be an effort to remove the tensions from the Army-Navy football tradition that is among the nation's greatest sports rivalries. There is a long history of presidents interceding in the Army-Navy affair. Grover Cleveland shut down the football contests, arguing that they had simply become too rough. Theodore Roosevelt put the rivalry back on the field, with a slew of restrictions aimed at preventing "any manifestations of an improper character." Dwight Eisenhower played in the game as a West Point cadet. Harry Truman and John Kennedy were big fans who made it their business to attend the game nearly every year.

President Bush is the only chief executive since Kennedy who has attended more than one Army-Navy game while in office, but it can't really be necessary to conduct international talks to seek an end to Navy's recent dominance (the Annapolitans have won eight of the last ten games and now lead the series, 51-49.)

But if these talks do turn out to be yet another effort to settle the Middle East situation, the president has picked the wrong Annapolis venue. The Naval Academy's food won't bring either side closer to a bargain. I suggest shuttle diplomacy, moving back and forth between the pastrami on rye at Chick and Ruth's deli on Main Street, and the fatteh at Lebanese Taverna at Annapolis Harbour Center.
When it turns out that the two sides still can't stand each other, at least it wouldn't be a total loss.

By Marc Fisher |  November 27, 2007; 7:18 AM ET
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"Frankly, I didn't think"

You got the first four words correct! Congrat's.

You didn't need to tell us this Marc, we already knew.

Posted by: SoMD | November 27, 2007 8:55 AM

Boo to SoMD for sheer orneriness. It's nice to see the Post write about Annapolis, even when it is tongue in cheek. The food recommendations are kind of lame, but thanks for trying, Marc.

Posted by: Annapolis | November 27, 2007 10:18 AM

And by the way, SoMD, the generally accepted abbreviation for congratulations is congrats, not congrat's.

Posted by: Paul | November 27, 2007 11:05 AM

Love this Marc - Thank you for recognizing the MRE and Eastport and our continual drive for independence and acceptance. I fear, however, that todays peace talks will do no better than any of the other peace deals Annapolis has tried to broker. For one, the City made the MRE take their flags off the Eastport bridge for this event, for crying out loud! And didn't even replace them with US flags. We, the MRE, were founded in 1998, by the way, but it's our quest for independence and harmony that is important, not a date. In reference to your food suggestions, I propose you cross over the bridge and try a crabcake (at 8.99 a much more acceptable price than anywhere downtown and much better tasting) at Davis' Pub, a sandwich at the Eastport Deli, the crab soup (and view) at Carrol's Creek, a steak at Lewnes', seafood at O'Leary's, a pint drink at the Boatyard and a pizza and more at the Rockfish. If we can't get independence, we can at least eat really well.

Ps. did you know the Annapolis Mayor, one of the city alderman and a county council person are founding fathers of the MRE? We're infiltrating, slowly but surely.

Posted by: mdsails | November 27, 2007 11:05 AM

Im a flying monkey!!!!

Posted by: dont matter | November 30, 2007 9:47 AM

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