The Democratic `Oreo Gang' rides yet again

February 16, 2005|By GREGORY KANE

MARYLAND'S Democrats are railing and harrumphing and flailing their moral high horse with such vigor these days that the folks in PETA might bring them up on animal cruelty charges.

After Joseph F. Steffen Jr., who worked in Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration, got caught spreading e-mail rumors about some alleged affairs Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley was not having, Democrats are demanding investigations and apologies.

Those lovable, blessed Virgin Mary Dems -- so named because they figure they're without sin -- have even named the names of those they want to issue apologies. At the head of the list is Ehrlich.

So, the members of the Oreo Cookie Gang now have their underwear in a knot, do they?

You know who the members of the Oreo Cookie Gang are: Maryland's Democrats, the same ones who either:

a.) Brandished Oreo cookies at a gubernatorial debate at Morgan State University between then-candidates Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 2002 or:

b.) Haven't uttered so much as a syllable condemning the despicable act.

Well, when it comes to apologies, let's take care of first things first, shall we?

If Democrats are really serious about apologies, then each and every single one of them should line up to apologize to Lt. Gov. Michael Steele for that Oreo cookie business.

Democrats might not remember it -- their memories seem danged short when it comes to their sins -- but that Oreo thing at Morgan was a way of insulting Steele. It implied he was black on the outside and white on the inside. It said he was an Uncle Tom and a race traitor. It was nasty, uncalled for and should never have happened.

And while I'm on the "Uncle Tom" matter, Democrats can line up and apologize to Steele for the time in 2001 that Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller used that ugly racial slur in referring to Steele. Make no bones about it, calling any black man an "Uncle Tom" is right up there with using the "N" word. Both terms are fighting words. Use either, and you're telling the person you directed it at that you're ready to take it outside.

Remember when Roy Innis, the chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, was on Geraldo Rivera's show and a white guy called him an Uncle Tom? Innis stood up, grabbed the white guy by the throat and choked the living daylights out of him. Rivera's nose was broken in the near race riot that followed.

Maryland Democrats reacted to Miller's calling Steele an Uncle Tom like it was business as usual. There were no expressions of shock, or dismay or calls for apologies. (Though, to be fair, Miller did call Steele and apologize shortly after the remark.) But from other Democrats, Steele has yet to get his apology. He has a better chance of seeing a polar bear jogging in the Sahara Desert than of getting an apology from a Democrat in this state.

Like Steele, Ellen Sauerbrey, Maryland's GOP gubernatorial candidate in 1994 and 1998, is due an apology. During the 1998 campaign, Democrats painted Sauerbrey as a racist. The tag stuck, although former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, former state Sen. Clarence Mitchell III and former Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry all said it wasn't true. At least we have the comfort of knowing there are three Democrats in Maryland with a sense of shame.

The rest of the lot apparently have none. They branded Steele an Oreo and an Uncle Tom. (You'd think Democrats would steer clear of the issue of racial loyalty, since that's a staple of the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups.) They labeled Sauerbrey a racist.

Now, with the rumors about O'Malley having flown around everywhere and among just about everybody, they're trying to claim the Republicans started them. I remember where I first heard those rumors, and believe me, it wasn't anywhere near a Republican Party office in the state. I've had people e-mailing me for months, demanding to know why the press didn't investigate the rumors. As if we hadn't asked about them. And as if we hadn't found them baseless.

It would be nice if we could return to those halcyon early days of the O'Malley administration, when the debate was whether zero-tolerance policing was effective. O'Malley probably pines for those days himself. But now we just have Democrats accusing Republicans of mudslinging.

What are they saying? That Republicans sling mud better than they do?

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