The Real State of the State and the Real State of Martin O’Malley

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By W. TIMOTHY SUTTON. Sutton is a member of the Maryland Libertarian Party executive board. He hosts the Non-Aggression Principle Thursday nights at 8 pm on Free State Radio.

First, we at Free State Radio continue to express our condolences to those harmed at Columbia Mall yesterday and to all of those who have suffered from senseless acts of violence.

On Thursday, Governor Martin O’Malley gave his final State of the State address in Annapolis. We covered it with aplomb on Thursday night’s Non-Aggression Principle. You can watch our Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on it here. If you want to watch the unannotated version you can do that here.

Many news outlets have focused on the misrepresentations and factual errors in the speech. Others have noted those errors and the odd reference to noted anti-semite Henry Ford that was immediately picked up on our Thursday show. The Daily Record shows the strong lack of rhetorical innovation in the speech.The Republican candidates for governor responded in an expected manner. But what really struck me about the speech was not the lies about cutting $9 billion dollars from the budget when the budget has gone up $10 billion dollars. It was not the rhetoric about our schools when we are dead last in the 8th grade achievement gap. It was not even taking credit for things that have happened routinely and with greater success around the country such as the lowered crime rate and lower infant mortality rate. No, what struck me about the speech was Governor O’Malley’s seeming lack of charisma and lack of enthusiasm for his policies and “achievements.” It just struck me as insincere.

This is a man who wants to be president someday. A man who sold out Baltimore to a) the highest bidder and b) a higher office. He made the rounds on the talk show circuit in support of President Obama’s reelection bid to raise his national profile. He supported Hillary Clinton in her bid for president in 2008 so he is presumably not on her enemies list and is a candidate for vice-president or at least a cabinet position in 2016. But from his body language, the tone of his voice, the seeming lack of vetting of the actual speech, the clichés sprinkled throughout, and the lack of care in delivering it, it just seemed as though his heart was not in it.

Now it may be that even he does not believe the manure that he is spreading. He has never been much of an ideologue. He came around on gay marriage, the death penalty, and gambling expansion only when politically advantageous. He is still in favor of marijuana prohibition and wants to be seen as tough on crime even though it is not a particularly progressive position. Maryland is not very liberal, not compared to western states, but it maintains that good ‘ol boys network of east coast politics. O’Malley’s father-in-law was attorney general after all.

This is especially interesting because O’Malley has always viewed himself as a rock star. Between his band, the sleeveless shirts, and the unbridled ambition he has not been a shrinking violet. To watch the speech on Thursday, his last in this phase of his life and career, and to see a man just going through the motions was shocking. It was unemotional and fake. If this is the man that runs for president, well, expect DLA Piper, Whiteford Taylor or Miles & Stockbridge to have a new partner rather soon, because O’Malley is not going to go very far. Perhaps a position in the senate could be had when Barbara Mikulski retires, but, if he is hell bent on running for president the timing may not be right for that.

The most telling moment of the speech was not when he had a Ron Burgundy moment and read the word conclusion off of the teleprompter. No the most telling moment was when talking about how the only things worth doing were things that “might break your heart.” What does that mean? It was rhetorically empty and was delivered with a false tear in his eye. It was hollow. He was going for the big finish but fell flat. Falling flat may become a theme of his tenure as governor and his political future.

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