O’Malley and the Lost Art of Leadership

Posted on October 13, 2007


Gov. Martin O’Malley’s carefully crafted tax and slots initiative for Maryland is on the fast track to a special session of the General Assembly, starting date TBA next week.

After criticizing O’Malley for not moving fast enough last winter and spring, a herd of commentators has rushed to the following conclusions:

  1. The governor’s tax and slots proposal is too big, too complicated, and has “too many moving parts.” So what did they want, easy answers and a quick fix? Here’s the plan: Raise the sales tax a penny, boost income taxes for the rich and the near-rich, and cut them for everybody else, add a buck a pack to the cigarette tax, raise the corporate tax slightly and close tax loopholes, roll back the state property tax. What’s so complicated? The only part I don’t like is the slot machines part. Don’t get me started!
  2. O’Malley is taking a huge risk by calling a special session before Christmas. So? You and I risk our lives driving to work every morning. Maybe the governor thinks it’s worth taking a risk to accomplish something worthwhile in politics. Maybe the governor believes in the initiative he’s put together.

What we have here is a talented and energetic politician daring to lead. We’re so used to dysfunction and gridlock that we’re shocked. Shocked, I tell you, by the exercise of bold leadership.

Now here’s the part people don’t understand: The Democratic majority has been twisting in the wind for want of leadership. State senators and delegates know political talent when they see it. Senators and delegates want to be on the team with the star quarterback. Senators and delegates don’t want to be standing on the sidelines or riding the bench. O’Malley is making every effort to include them in, asking them to be on the starting team. If O’Malley throws a touchdown pass, the whole team wins. Just my opinion.  –Bernie