Mayor's earlier vitriol turns Glendening flip into a flop

This Just In ...

October 12, 1998|By DAN RODRICKS

SO, IN THE SPRING, from the steps of City Hall, the mayor of Baltimore pretty much called the governor of Maryland a liar. Six months later he's all smiles and endorsing the guy. It reminds me of the president of the United States. In January he stood in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, clenched his jaw, pounded a lectern and steadfastly denied that he'd had sex with "that woman." Eight months later. . . well, the rest is history.

Let's rewind the Schmoke tape from April 21 and have a listen: "I'm here to tell you that Parris Glendening did not keep the commitments he made four years ago."

Schmoke shouted. He stood above a crowd of 500 and, at times, almost screamed. We've never heard him use the upper registers like this. Back to the tape:

"He is vulnerable because he has shown himself to be unreliable, inconsistent and not credible."

For me, Schmoke's booming voice of April 21 did not indicate passion for Glendening's primary opponent, but he was trying with all his limited rhetorical skills to make it seem so. Schmoke just came across as a bad actor, a graduate of the "when-in-doubt- shout" school. More from the tape:

"Unless we take today's historic step, we are headed down an election year sinking of Titanic proportions with Parris Glen-dening sitting in the captain's chair and [Republican candidate] Ellen Sauerbrey in charge of the lifeboats.

"He and I sat in this office and negotiated very specific commitments to the people of Baltimore, and I'm here to tell you that Parris Glendening did not keep the commitments he made four years ago in exchange for my endorsement."

"Our governor has lost both his memory and his vision."

Well, somehow he got it back, I guess.

Politicians do turn-arounds all the time, some in a less obvious way than others. But when a public leader speaks first with such passion, strong rhetoric and dramatic symbolism and then says "never mind," he shouldn't expect people to respond. In fact, people are more inclined to giggle or sneer than take his words seriously. Which words are we supposed to believe -- the ones Schmoke shouted from the steps of City Hall, or the ones he uttered at a press conference the other day? I think the dear man has been getting some bad advice for years, and this year in particular. If he's so concerned about Ellen Sauerbrey becoming the next governor, he should have made his peace with Parris Glendening last winter. His words now, just three weeks before the general election, might have carried some weight.

Quite a pair

That was quite a little lovefest on the radio the other morning -- state Sen.-eject Larry Young acting as host to Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger on WOLB-AM. Dutch praised Young, who got the boot from the Senate because of ethical violations, for his work in the legislature. "You helped us," Ruppersberger said several times. Who knew Larry was such a pal? . . . License plate spotted outside the city courthouse: "NOTGLTY." . . . And we got a mild kick out of this license-plate holder: "I'm not spoiled. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not." (Must be a Yankees fan.) . . . And would the cat with the white Jeep Cherokee and the Fraternal Order of Police tags please stop running red lights on Guilford Avenue every weekday morning? If you don't, next time we're naming names, and oooh, won't that be embarrassing?

Missed opportunity

TJI reader David Fairall points out a missed literary opportunity in this column a few weeks ago. In a rare consideration of Bawlmer-ese, the native tongue, I highlighted a particular idiom used by convenience-store clerks and other cranky Baltimoreans in brushing away unwanted people and their questions. "I have no idea" ("Ah hayve nyo ah-dear") constitutes the Bawlmer Kiss-Off. In completing the argument on Sept. 23, this column ended with the words, "Where this person is, I have no idea." As reader Fairall points out, that should have read, "Where he's at, I have no idea."

Help for Harley payments

Over the last few years, there have been regular panhandlers at Joppa Road and Perring Parkway, Baltimore County. (Yes, they're in the 'burbs, too!) Once there was a whole family there; frequently we've seen a paunchy guy with a gym bag. Mervin Petterson swears he saw this: A guy standing next to a Harley-Davidson and holding a sign that said, "I have a home. I have a job. All I need is money for my motorcycle payment." Hey, at least the guy had a Harley; you can almost understand.

Answer to quiz

From Joey Amalfitano:

"The answer to Friday's little quiz about the former All-Pro on the Baltimore Colts who taught at Baltimore City College: Bobby Boyd, No. 40. He was about 25 years old in those days, 5 feet, 10 inches, 190 pounds, which was heavy for a defensive back. He was quiet. He sneered a lot. MisterBoyd taught business law. I tracked down an old classmate, Dave Brunson, now an auto broker in Cockeysville. He remembered the player-teacher well: 'Yeah, old Mr. Boyd put me in the hall a lot. I suggested he go on television and shave his head for a commercial. Of course, he was pretty bald-headed and resented it. I'm glad he never clotheslined me.' Dave and I remembered we liked Mr. Boyd for another reason: He passed us both."

Pub Date: 10/12/98

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