I continue to be fascinated as to how easily the new Speaker of the House is moved to tears. What better way to share those tears than to cry alongside Don Draper and (shudder) Glenn Beck.
After entering into a plea agreement, Mayor Sheila Dixon will resign effective 4 February 2010. I was never a fan of Mayor Dixon, as I voted for Keiffer Mitchell. The reports at the time of her varied shady dealings and clear ethical issues were enough to sway me then. When she was elected mayor, I personally thought that my fellow citizens were truly daft.
Surprisingly, though, the one thing that I expected from her never took place. She never made that one terrible gaffe while in office. Granted, I never found her to be a erudite speaker in public or on the airwaves. Still, she did not “screw up” as I had expected.
There were some policy changes that I still disagree with. While the tree-huggers who inhabit my fair city have been brainwashed into thinking that the change to trash pickup in this city was a good idea, I still despise it. I need not look much further than my neighborhood to see the rigorous enforcement of the various laws around trash that has clearly taken place.
Now, we await the assumption of the power by current City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Never have I been more dismayed over this turn of events. From the stories I have heard from her time in the Baltimore Office of the Public Defender to my personal experience attending social events where she has been present. In all of my dealings, she has always seem to me to be detached and somewhat annoyed to be where she is. To me, she offers nothing more than the cachet of her father’s last name.
Maybe Rawlings-Blake will be a surprise in office. I can only hope.
Here we are a day later, and many of the pundits are speaking of how this victory was a mandate. I will not debate the merits of it being a historical victory, as the Electoral College will elect a man of color for the first time. In some sense, that speaks volumes on how far our country has come but how far we still have yet to go.
I do take issue with calling Barack Obama’s victory a mandate. There is no mandate being delivered by his victory. If anything, I think this victory is the culmination of a long festering desire to return politics to the center. While the President is somewhat powerless in what is legislated by the Congress, he is still the embodiment of political leadership.
Personally, I have always viewed the American body politic as a centrist-entity with conservative tendencies. The last eight years have seen the fruits of the tree that was planted at the beginning of the Reagan Revolution of the late 1970s. Unfortunately, the Revolution for which standard-bearers such as William F. Buckley Jr. loudly trumpeted lost its way under the current Administration and Congress. The foreign policy of the Bush Administration is truly a mess, and it pains me to even think about it.
Still, I do not think that Obama’s victory means that, to borrow the lyrics from Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” “Blue skies/Smiling at me/Nothing but blue skies/Do I see.” There are lessons in recent history that display what happens when members of the same party control both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. One only needs to look at the disappointing results of the first part of the first term of Bill Clinton for that lesson.
I sincerely hope that the words Obama uttered in his victory speech do not ring hollow:
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House — a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.
As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends… Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” And, to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too.
Even in defeat, John McCain’s words also reached a similar note:
I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.
Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.
Maybe, for the first time in a very long time, our leaders can finally see beyond the differences of party–of red-state and blue state–and do what is necessary to address the important issues facing our country.
In what has been no terrible surprise to me, the investigation into alleged improprieties during Sheila Dixon’s time as President of the Baltimore City Council continues. You will not count me among one of Sheila Dixon’s vociferous supporters. As a matter of fact, I can potentially look into getting a bumper sticker that would say:
“Don’t blame me. I didn’t vote for Dixon.”
To describe myself as non-plussed by Dixon becoming Mayor last Fall would be an understatement. I was suspect of her and the ethics problems that had been at issue since she first became City Council President. Additionally, I like my politicians to have above average public speaking skills, and Mayor Dixon certainly does not rank first among her peers in this category.
So, to see new coverage of the ongoing investigation into her dealings with the awarding of contacts is not terribly surprising. What has been fascinating–and highly annoying, actually–has been the focus on the Dixon’s spending habits. She apparently bought some fur coats, some expensive shoes, and some other womanly accessories. Of course, if one were to read the local rag, you would find nothing but article upon article about what Dixon purchased as opposed to the investigation, its history, and other pertinent matters. If I read another article about her expensive purchases, I will tune out this investigation.
Ultimately, how surprised would one be if there was ill-gotten gain for Dixon and her associates as a result of her position of power? In the continuing evolution of urban poltiical machines, is this terribly surprising? Yesterday’s Tammany Hall has evolved into today’s nameless political machine. By no means does this make it right, and it certainly is not an indictment of every local politician.
Nonetheless, I demand more substance to the coverage of this investigation. Would it be too much to ask to actually get investigative journalism as opposed to the style of tabloid journalism that is currently being exercised here? Thus far, that desire seems a bit outlandish.