Back to the future

January 18, 1995

Parris N. Glendening, who today becomes Maryland's 59th governor, has likened his style of government to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who prized steadfastness over flash. It's a good comparison.

Marylanders may occasionally miss the funny hats, the grand passions and even the temper tantrums of William Donald Schaefer, the towering figure so fondly caricatured by columnist Dan Rodricks as "Don Donaldo." But if Governor Glendening has his way, Marylanders will be amply compensated by something they prize even more -- results that improve the state's economy and, thus, the lives of people throughout the state.

Governor Glendening is nothing if not careful and meticulous in his planning. Throughout his political career, he has shown an aptitude for giving voters what they want, while consolidating his base. Since barely surviving a squeaker of an election in November, he has made it clear that if Marylanders want a trimmed-down, less-expensive but more effective government, that is exactly what he will strive to give them.

Forget the expansive promises that alarmed many observers during his primary campaign. Instead, the Glendening administration will hone its focus to three essential priorities: jobs, safe communities and education. The rest, he says, will have to wait.

Like former Gov. Harry Hughes, the new governor is better behind the scenes than as a back-slapping pol. Rest assured that funny hats are not his style. Much more than Mr. Hughes or other Maryland governors, this chief executive is a true student -- and teacher -- of government. He gets excited about the nuts and bolts of government, the details that can bore other people to distraction.

Barring unforeseen difficults, Marylanders should be able to expect a smooth ride from the Glendening administration. Of course, much depends on developments outside a governor's control, like national and international events. But whatever comes down the road, Marylanders can be sure this governor will deliberate before he reacts and tailor his actions to fit a long-range plan.

For Marylanders accustomed to a sometimes frenetic "do it now" government, the steady, deliberate Glendening approach may seem a bit bland. But it will also be a welcome change.

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