GEOGRAPHY can mean everything in a debate.
Maryland's Democrats in the House of Representatives split, 2-2, in the vote giving President Bush authority to use force against Iraq, with the two Washington-area members of Congress supporting the bill and the two from the Baltimore area opposing it.
All four seem to agree that Saddam Hussein poses a serious threat to U.S. security and other national interests. They disagree about how the nation should deal with the problem.
Rep. Albert R. Wynn, the liberal from Prince George's County, voted with his more moderate Washington-area colleague, Steny H. Hoyer, to support the president. The resolution, passed by both chambers and signed by Bush last week, gives him the power to act against Iraq if he informs Congress that diplomacy has failed and that military action is consistent with the war on terrorism.
Members of the state's delegation portrayed the vote as an individual choice on how to approach concerns about Iraq. Still, it was no small matter for Wynn and Hoyer to break from Maryland's other Democrats, including both senators.
Wynn and Hoyer described the resolution as critical for the safety of U.S. citizens, particularly those in the Washington area. "This was not an ideological decision," Wynn said. "This was a very practical decision. I represent the Washington suburbs, which is a prime target for our enemies."
The other Washington-area member of the House -- Republican Constance A. Morella of Montgomery County -- voted against the resolution, one of just six Republicans nationally and the only member of Maryland's GOP to do so.
"Can I, or can any parent, look into the eyes of an 18-year-old boy and with a clear mind and clean conscience say that we have exhausted every other option before sending him into the perils of combat?" Morella said.
In the Baltimore area, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin said the resolution gives the president sweeping power that he does not believe Congress should be ceding.
An aide to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said nine out of every 10 callers to his office urged a vote against the resolution because they don't want to go to war.
"In the absence of clear evidence of an imminent threat to the United States, I have concluded that a pre-emptive, `go-it-alone' military strategy by the United States toward Iraq would be both unwise and morally wrong," Cummings said.
Jewish voters let ads speak for their choice
If you want to know whom Baltimore-area Jewish voters are going to choose for governor, check out the Baltimore Jewish Times. Not the news stories, but the ads.
The weekly's four most recent issues contain eight full-page ads: four placed by supporters of Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and four by backers of Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- for a total investment of $15,000.
The favored format appears to be from-the-desk-of appeals signed by people well known in the Jewish community, such as Terry Meyerhoff Rubenstein (for Townsend) and former Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg (for Ehrlich).
Some of them are, shall we say, emotional. One favoring Townsend, signed by Brenda Brown Rever, refers indirectly to the Holocaust: "We, of all people, have learned, if you do not pay attention to history, you are doomed to repeat it."
Others are more personal: "I've known Bob Ehrlich since the day he was born and have had the pleasure of watching him grow into the mensch he is today," wrote Alan Abramson.
Do the ads indicate Baltimore's Jewish community is split over its choice of governor? Not exactly, says Times editor Phil Jacobs.
Although Ehrlich probably has more Jewish support than previous Republican candidates, Jacobs says, most Jews are going to vote Democratic on Election Day, despite the "kvetching" he says he's heard about Townsend.
Townsend-Ehrlich battle takes a juvenile turn
It started with a TV ad Ehrlich ran last month in which he and his wife talk about the arrival of their son, Drew. Ehrlich mentions that he got the diaper thing down pretty quick.
Townsend apparently found this amusing -- and irritating. "Can you believe Congressman Ehrlich has an ad boasting that he changed his child's diapers?" she said at a women's rally last week. "Give me a break!"
Ehrlich is now using Drew to get revenge. As he campaigned at two rallies in Baltimore over the weekend, he addressed Drew during his stump speech. "Have you been seeing Daddy on TV?"
"Yes," said Drew.
"Who else do you see on TV?"
"The bad lady," said Drew.
"We don't like the bad lady, do we?"